(NaturalNews) The National Association For Continence (NAFC) reports about 25 million adult Americans experience transient or chronic problems with urinary incontinence -- and the vast majority who struggle with passing urine accidentally, around 75 percent, are women. Symptoms can include leaking urine when you cough, laugh, or exercise. The number of people affected by the problem has produced a huge market for products to help cover-up or relieve the symptoms, including panty liners that trap urine, adult "diapers", surgery and a host of powerful prescription drugs which are being promoted on television commercials as a way to treat the problem by popping a pill. According to the Mayo Clinic web site, the major types of medications used to relieve urinary incontinence are anticholinergics, alpha-adrenergic agonists and estrogen. All these drugs are laden with potential side effects ranging from dry mouth, dizziness, constipation, heartburn, blurry vision and urinary retention to impaired memory, confusion and even cancer.
But the results of a clinical trial sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH), both part of the National Institutes of Health(NIH), just reported in the New England Journal of Medicineshows a totally natural approach can solve the problem in many women.
The cure? Getting weight under control and exercising -- an approach that was shown to work not only for obese women but also for those simply overweight. "Clearly, weight loss can have a significant, positive impact on urinary incontinence, a finding that may help motivate weight loss, which has additional health benefits such as preventing type 2 diabetes," said NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D, in a statement to the media.
The multi-center, randomized clinical trial was conducted at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), Brown University and the University of Alabama and involved overweight volunteers in the Program to Reduce Incontinence by Diet and Exercise (PRIDE). The participants, 338 overweight and obese women aged 42 to 64 years, were experiencing at least 10 episodes of urinary incontinence every week when the study started. The research subjects were randomly assigned to either an intensive six month weight-loss program that included a group diet, exercise, and behavioral modification sessions, or to a control group who received advice about weight control but no ongoing guidance.
At the end of six months, the control group had lost an average of three pounds each and experienced a 28 percent decrease in their number of weekly incontinence episodes. However, the women in the guided weight-loss group fared even better. They lost an average of 17 pounds and achieved a reduction of at least 70 percent of total stress and urge incontinence episodes each week compared to the control group. These same women also reported a greater improvement in the frequency of their urinary incontinence, a lower volume of urine leaked and, overall, less of a problem with incontinence at six months, compared to the controls.
The study concluded that weight loss was most effective for the involuntary urine leakage known as stress incontinence that occurs with coughing, sneezing, straining, or exercise. Overall, the results were so dramatic that the researchers concluded weight reduction should be a first-line treatment for incontinence in overweight and obese women.
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.