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Article updated: 4/8/2013 8:17 AM

Your health: Easing arthritis

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Arthritis prevention

Looking for tips to prevent arthritis or ease the pain of flare-ups? Start off by pouring yourself a cocktail, reports The Washington Post.

According to the March issue of the AARP Bulletin, a recent study found that, compared with nondrinkers, women who had more than three alcoholic drinks each week for 10 years reduced their risk of getting arthritis by about half.

Other recommendations include eating cherries, which contain pain-fighting antioxidants; spicing up food with anti-inflammatory turmeric; and taking up acupuncture, tai chi and yoga to manage pain.

The magazine also suggests skipping sugary drinks, which one study found contributed to weight gain and knee osteoarthritis, as well as red meat, oily fish and certain vegetables, such as beans, containing compounds that could cause flare-ups.

Depression source

When depression strikes, doctors usually probe what's going on in the mind and brain first. But it's also important to check what's going on in the body, since certain medical problems are linked to mood disturbances. In fact, medical illnesses -- and medication side effects -- may be behind nearly 10 percent to 15 percent of all cases of depression, says Harvard Medical School.

It's not uncommon for a physical illness to trigger depression. Up to half of heart attack survivors and those with cancer report feeling blue, and many are diagnosed with depression. Many people who have diabetes, Parkinson's and other chronic conditions become depressed.

It works in the other direction, too. Depression can affect the course of a physical disease. Take heart disease -- depression has been linked with slower recovery from a heart attack and an increased risk for future heart trouble.

Here's another chicken-or-egg example. Two common thyroid disorders are well-known to affect mood. If the thyroid makes too much hormone (hyperthyroidism), manic symptoms can result. If the gland makes too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism), exhaustion and depression can appear. Treating thyroid disease can often relieve the mood problems.

The list doesn't stop there. Other medical conditions associated with mood disorders include certain neurological conditions (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's), other hormonal imbalances and some nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamin B12.

The take-home message is that if you have depression, or think you might, a thorough physical exam and careful medical history could help pinpoint a physical source of the problem -- and the most appropriate treatment.

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