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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 October, 2003, 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK
Why chopsticks can be harmful
Chopsticks can cause joint problems
Eating with chopsticks everyday increases the risk of developing the painful condition osteoarthritis.

Research carried out in Beijing suggests that the repetitive movement of pinching the chopsticks together to pick up food can cause joint problems in the fingers and hand.

More than 2,500 Beijing residents aged 60, who ate using chopsticks, were assessed for signs of bone damage in their hands by the Boston University School of Medicine.

Researchers gave their findings to a meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in Orlando, Florida, after studying x-rays of their hands.

They concluded that further study was needed - but noted that the effect was unlikely to deter people from continuing a practice which goes back thousands of years.

In normal joints cartilage covers the end of each bone.

It acts as a cushion between the bones and allows joints to move smoothly.

But in osteoarthritis, the cartilage between the joints breaks down causing pain and swelling which can stop sufferers from doing day to day activities like getting dressed.

What causes the disease is not known, although doctors suspect that repeated overuse of particular joints may be to blame.

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