To Your Good Health: Unexplained weight loss must be investigated | Columnists


Sometimes, the body cannot absorb calories properly. Celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease are the most common, but there are others. The body may lose calories; diabetes causes sugar to come out through the urine. Some infections can cause profound weight loss, such as tuberculosis — “consumption” is an old name for this disease — HIV, viral hepatitis and parasites.

Your metabolism might indeed be high, but that is not a normal condition of aging. Overactive thyroid disease is a condition your doctor has probably already looked for.

Medications are an uncommon cause of weight loss. Flecainide has been reported to cause weight loss in 1% to 3% of users. Some supplements can cause weight loss, too.

Cancer leaps to the mind for many when they hear about weight loss. Colon cancer and prostate cancer should be considered in any 72-year-old man, but especially with weight loss. The CT scan, if it included chest, abdomen and pelvis, should have found lung, kidney or pancreatic cancers, which all are frequently associated with weight loss.

Since your weight loss continues, it’s time for a more thorough re-evaluation. Your youthful basal metabolism probably hasn’t just returned.

DEAR DR. ROACH: I am a small-boned 80-year-old woman who was just advised to begin osteoporosis treatments. At age 80, will the medication actually slow down my bone loss, or am I too old to see any better results from next year’s bone density test? I’m very active, ride an exercise bike 3 miles and walk a treadmill 1 mile at least five days a week. I also take four daily tablets of Citracal+D3 tablets. — S.M.

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