Staying Trim, Strong May Cut Incontinence Risk


But for women in study, these factors only helped with one type of incontinence

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Cecilia Lalama

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Dec. 30, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Urinary incontinence is a widespread complaint among women, but a new study suggests that older women may find relief from this frustrating problem if they’re slimmer and stronger.

The study followed nearly 1,500 women in their 70s for three years. Researchers found that a decrease in body mass index of 5 percent or more during that time led to a 50 percent reduction in the risk of new or persistent stress urinary incontinence.

Body mass index (BMI) is a rough estimate of a person’s body fat based on height and weight. For example, a woman who’s 5 feet 6 inches tall who weighs 175 pounds has a BMI of 28.2. If she lost 5 percent of her BMI, it would be 26.8, which translates to a weight loss of about 9 pounds.

The study also showed that a decrease in grip strength of 5 percent or more was linked to 60 percent higher odds of new or persistent stress urinary incontinence. Grip strength is considered an indicator of overall muscle strength, the study authors said.

“Our study found that changes in body composition and grip strength are associated with changes in stress urinary incontinence frequency over time, but not with changes in urgency urinary incontinence frequency over time,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Anne Suskind. She’s an assistant professor of urology at the University of California, San Francisco.

Suskind said that distinguishing between the two types of urinary incontinence is important.

“Stress incontinence is involuntary leakage of urine associated with an increase in abdominal pressure (i.e., coughing, laughing, sneezing),” she explained.

“Urgency urinary incontinence is involuntary leakage of urine accompanied or immediately preceded by a sense of urgency. The underlying mechanisms of each type of incontinence differ and each type of incontinence is treated differently,” Suskind said.

Stress urinary incontinence tends to happen after delivering children, said Dr. Megan Schimpf. She’s chair of the Public Education Committee for the American Urogynecologic Society.

Urgency incontinence may be caused by neurological issues, Schimpf said.

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