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As harmful as osteoporosis but less well known - New research better explains sarcopenia

(April 1, 2003) Bethesda, MD -- The dangers associated with osteoporosis are justifiably conveyed in the electronic and print media, since this condition leading to a decrease in bone mass is responsible for 50 percent of the fractures incurred by women over age 50. But an equally harmful condition, sarcopenia, surprisingly remains unknown to the millions that will suffer the results of this geriatric disorder.

Background
Sarcopenia is the condition when the lean muscle, which is one of the most metabolically active tissues (user of calories) in the human body, accelerates its erosion after age 45. Lean muscle erosion is the single most important factor in the gradual accumulation of excess body fat. From events as subtle as buying your car to the consumption of an inadequate meal, your body through the compounding effects of an inadequate diet and a lack of regular exercise gradually begins to weaken.

Previous research has offered evidence suggesting that chronic inflammation is one of the most important biological mechanisms underlying the decline in physical function that is often observed over the aging process. The plasma concentration of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a cytokine that plays a central role in inflammation, tends to increase with age. High serum levels of IL-6 are a predictive factor of disability in the elderly, and preliminary data contend that IL-6 is associated with accelerated sarcopenia. However, the mechanism by which chronic inflammation affects physical function has not been fully established.

Several studies suggest that insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) is an important modulator of muscle mass and function not only during an individual's developmental period but also across the entire life span. Recent findings of an epidemiological study performed in a large representative sample of older women show that low plasma IGF-I levels are associated with poor knee extensor muscle strength, slow walking speed, and
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Contact: Donna Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
703-527-7357
American Physiological Society
2-Apr-2003


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