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BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 23 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7549

Whole body vibration is not recommended for postmenopausal women

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Twenty minutes a day of standing on an oscillating platform did nothing for the bone mineral density or bone structure of postmenopausal women in a recent trial. The treatment, known as whole body vibration, went on for 12 months. Researchers compared two different frequencies with no treatment. Neither frequency had a measurable effect on bone at the distal tibia, distal radius, femoral neck, hip, or lumbar spine.

The 202 participants had low bone mineral densities (T scores between −1 and −2.5) at the start of the trial, but no osteoporosis. They took calcium and vitamin D supplements for the whole year. The vibrating platforms, used at home and unsupervised, caused no serious side effects, but a handful of women blamed the vibrations for nuisance symptoms such as numbness, weakness, nausea, headache, and bladder discomfort. Three stopped treatment early because of dizziness, shin pain, and foot pain.

This is the biggest trial of whole body vibration to test a low magnitude treatment in postmenopausal women, say the authors. They do not recommend it. A state of the science review published alongside the trial does not recommend whole body vibration either—the evidence is still too patchy and the target group too unclear. This kind of treatment is currently unregulated.

Niacin hangs in the balance

The role of niacin in adults with cardiovascular disease remains in doubt after a large trial found that this drug did not prevent heart attacks, strokes, or other serious cardiovascular events when added to intensive treatment with statins.

Niacin is best known for increasing serum concentrations of high density lipoprotein-cholesterol, but the 25% increase reported in this trial did not prevent a single cardiovascular event …

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