Researchers in Oklahoma are making huge strides in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.
“We expect to have a wonderful year of new discoveries,” said Dr. Stephen M. Prescott, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation president.
Studies during the past two decades on these diseases have paid off, Prescott said.
One such discovery was taking the blood or skin cells from a diabetic patient and converting them to cells that can treat diabetes. Another plan of action for treating diseases is to find a less expensive treatment that will do the same thing, such as creating a pill that will mimic what an antibody does, Prescott said.
While new discoveries are good news for patients suffering from these diseases, the bad news is the treatments are expensive.
Prescott said some of the new treatments can cost several thousands of dollars each year, but he is optimistic the cost will be lowered.
Some of the health trends for 2012 will rely on the past.
Running, one of those previous trends, is now a new game, he said.
“With baby boomers now pushing what used to be retirement age, expect to see the ranks of senior athletes continue to swell,” Prescott said.
A study of runners at the New York City Marathon shows that the fastest finishing times in this age group dropped by seven minutes among men and 16 minutes among women, he said.
Runners who suffer from foot and leg injuries will switch from “minimalist” footwear back to traditional running shoes, Prescott said.
While older runners are relying on the “tried-and-true” methods, young adults are using the latest technology by making use of health and fitness apps on their smartphones.
There are more than 10,000 health and fitness apps for the iPhone, and that number is expected to grow in 2012, he said.
Other trends include leaving gluten out of diets, but bringing protein back in.
Gluten, a protein found in wheat, breads and cereals, is fast becoming a forbidden staple for many people. The old diet craze of high-protein, low-carb will make its way back to the table, Prescott said.