Women who drink less may still become incontinent

Can urinary incontinence late in life be prevented by cutting back on liquids years earlier? Probably not, according to new research.

The study looked at women who had not yet developed incontinence, to see whether higher liquid intake was linked with incontinence years later.

Dr Fran Grodstein at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and colleagues looked at two to four years of data on more than 65,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study, including how much they drank each day and who later developed incontinence.

Fluid totals ranged from a little more than a litre to nearly three litres each day.

The statistics

About 30% of the women later developed at least one leaking episode per month, which Dr Grodstein said is consistent with other estimates of incontinence among women.

Across quintiles of fluid intake, "the rate of developing incontinence was the same," said Dr Grodstein.

Her report was published online in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Findings are valid

Dr Philippe Zimmern, a professor of urology at UT South-western Medical School who was not involved in the study, said he thinks the findings are valid but it would be worthwhile to examine the data in finer detail.

One factor Dr Zimmern said was missing is how often the women urinated.

"You can mask incontinence by going to the bathroom frequently enough," he said, and that can lead to underestimates of incontinence.

Dr Zimmern said he isn't aware of women restricting how much they drink to prevent incontinence from later developing. But "it's terrific to settle that issue for good," he said.(Reuters Health/ March 2011)

Read more:
Weight-loss surgery eases incontinence in obese

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