Today’s Headlines: How Exercise Can Help Your Knees, The Computer Training That May Lower Your Risk For Dementia, and Why You May Not Need a Yearly Body Scan

Physical therapy may be just as effective as surgery for your knees. A small clinical trial from Denmark and Norway found that physical therapy can alleviate pain and help those with degenerative meniscal tears save money by avoiding surgery. “Out of 140 adults with degenerative meniscal tears, half received arthroscopic surgery and were given exercises to perform at home; the other half were prescribed 12 weeks of supervised exercise sessions, two to three times a week. Three months later, the second group actually scored higher on tests of thigh muscle strength than the surgery group. After two years, improvement in both groups was equal: The participants reported similar progression in terms of pain, ability to play sports and participate in recreation, and knee-related quality of life.” Researchers recommended trying alternative therapies and only resorting to surgery if pain becomes a persistent problem. (Time)

Decrease your risk of dementia through brain training. New research has found that certain activities can delay the onset of dementia. “For those who got the commercially available brain-training exercises, the cumulative risk of developing cognitive decline or dementia over 10 years was 33% lower than for participants who got no training at all…Compared to study participants who got no training at all, recruits who went through more than 10 of the computerized brain-training sessions were 48% less likely over 10 years to experience dementia or cognitive decline.” The computer game used, called Double Decision, is available for purchase: “The game exercises an individual’s ability to detect, remember and respond to cues that appear and disappear quickly in varying locations on a computer screen.” (LA Times)

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force said that yearly body scans for skin cancer are unnecessary. The task force claimed that there was not enough evidence to outweigh the potential danger from these screenings. “Grossman [vice chairman of the task force] stressed that the statement doesn’t apply to people who have skin lesions or any other kind of suspicious growths or to those with an increased risk of cancer or a family history of the disease. But unnecessary screening could lead to overtreatment, including unneeded biopsies with unwanted side effects, he noted. And while it seems ‘intuitive’ that full-body exams would result in cancer being caught early, Grossman said the research suggests that some doctors are much more adept than others at finding lesions.” While more research needs to be done on how effective the screenings are and who should be getting them, everyone should protect their skin from the sun by wearing sunglasses, sunscreen, and protective clothing. (Washington Post)