Good Diet & Exercise May Prevent Urianry Incontinence In Diabetic Women

Urinary incontinence is the accidental release of urine. It can happen when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or jog.

Or you may have a sudden need to go to the bathroom but can't get there in time. Bladder control problems are very common, especially among older adults. They usually don't cause major health problems, but they can be embarrassing.

Overweight women with diabetes may be able to cut their risk of urine leakage if they shed some pounds, a new study suggests. .

Extra pounds, especially in the belly, are considered a risk factor for urinary incontinence. And some studies have found that when overweight women drop even a modest amount of weight, they can curb their risk of incontinence.

Type 2 diabetes, which often goes hand-in-hand with obesity, is also a risk factor for urine leakage, regardless of weight. So weight loss could be especially helpful for heavy women with diabetes -- but studies hadn't looked at the question until now.

In the new study, researchers found that overweight diabetic women who took up diet and exercise changes lost an average of 17 pounds over a year. And with the weight loss came a lower risk of developing incontinence.
urolo_01.jpgOver a year, 10.5 percent of women in the diet-and-exercise group developed new problems with urine leakage. That compared with 14 percent of women who had not made lifestyle changes.

"Overweight and obese women with type 2 diabetes should consider weight loss as a way to reduce their risk of developing urinary incontinence," lead researcher Suzanne Phelan, of California Polytechnic State University.

And of course, she added, there are already known benefits of shedding those extra pounds -- like better diabetes control and a lower risk of heart disease.

The findings, reported in the Journal of Urology, are based on 2,739 middle-aged and older women who were part of a larger diabetes study.

At the outset, the women were randomly assigned to one of two groups. In one group, the women were encouraged to cut calories and exercise for three hours a week. The other group had three diabetes education sessions.

Overall, women in the lifestyle group had a lower rate of urinary incontinence over the next year. And it didn't take a lot of weight loss to start to make a difference, Phelan's team found.

For every two pounds a woman lost, the odds of developing incontinence dipped by three percent.

On the other hand, weight loss did not seem to help women who already had urine leakage problems at the study's start.

"We aren't sure why weight loss appeared to impact prevention but not resolution of urinary incontinence," Phelan said.

It's possible, she said, that weight loss is more effective at preventing, rather than treating, urine leakage. Or there may simply have been too few women with existing urinary incontinence to detect an effect of weight loss, Phelan added.

It's also unclear how to account for the drop in incontinence risk -- it might be related to the exercise or the blood sugar reduction, for instance.

Urinary incontinence is very common among women -- in large part because weak muscles in the lower urinary tract and Problems or damage either in the urinary tract or in the nerves that control urination.

  1. Journal of Urology, online January 19, 2012.
  2. Health News - Weight loss may prevent leaky bladder in diabetes by Amy Norton
  3. NEW YORK (Reuters Health) 
  4. Web MD - Urinary Incontinence In Women
  5. Image Source: Trailx


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