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Health & Wellness

Risk of Heart Disease Increased By Drinking Sweetened Beverages

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As the U.S. celebrates American Diabetes Month this November to raise awareness on one of the leading diseases in the world, a new study revealed that drinking sweetened beverages on a regular basis not only worsens the risk of diabetes but also of cardiovascular diseases.

A Swedish study conducted by Dr. Susanna Larsson and colleagues at the Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm involved close to 49,000 males who were asked about their diet, physical activity, lifestyle, and health status. After filtering out those with existing health issues such as heart ailments or cancer, the remaining 42,400 respondents were monitored for about 12 years.

From the survey and continuous monitoring, researchers discovered that “men who consumed at least two servings per day of sweetened beverages had a 23% higher risk of heart failure, compared with non-consumers,” as reported in a news item.

Aside from diabetes, cardiovascular diseases remains one of the top causes of death, affecting roughly 23 million people around the world.


Early Disease Detection

About Half of Asian and Latino Diabetes Sufferers Remain Undiagnosed

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More than half of Asian Americans and almost half of Hispanic Americans who have diabetes remain undiagnosed, according to the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Using newly available data from 2011-2012, the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers were able to quantify diabetes prevalence for Asian Americans for the first time and found that they have the highest proportion of diabetes that was undiagnosed among all ethnic and racial subgroups studied, at 51%. Diabetes was also common in Asian Americans, at 21%. Hispanic Americans had the highest prevalence of diabetes at nearly 23%, with 49% of that undiagnosed.

The results were published Sept. 8 in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The data also found that Asian Americans often develop type 2 diabetes at a lower body mass index (BMI). The NHANES data showed the average BMI for all Asian Americans surveyed was under 25. For the U.S. population overall, the average BMI was just below 29. A BMI of 25 to under 30 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese. The American Diabetes Association recommends Asian Americans get tested for diabetes at a BMI of 23 or higher, a lower BMI threshold than the general population.

“The large proportion of people with undiagnosed diabetes points to both a greater need to test for type 2 diabetes and a need for more education on when to test for type 2 diabetes, especially since populations such as Asian Americans may develop type 2 at a lower body mass than other groups,” said the study’s senior author, Catherine Cowie, Ph.D., director of diabetes epidemiology programs at the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

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Health & Wellness

Drinking Sweet Beverages Leads To Higher Risk of Fatty Liver Disease

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A team of researchers discovered a link between regular consumption of sugar-containing drinks and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Study lead author Jiantao Ma, Ph.D. of Tufts University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging explained the significance of their research. “Our study adds to a growing body of research suggesting that sugar-sweetened beverages may be linked to NAFLD and other chronic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” Ma said in a news release.

The research was conducted through a survey of more than 2,600 enrolees of the Offspring and Third Generation cohort study of the National Heart Lunch and Blood Institute Framingham Heart Study, asking them about their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, which include colas and fruit-based drinks. The respondents were checked for the amount of liver fat via CT scan.

Results showed a higher risk of developing the liver disease when drinking more than one sweet drink a day. However, there was no link found between NAFLD and consumption of diet sodas.

The researchers have not determined a cause-and-effect relationship, though. “The cross-sectional nature of this study prevents us from establishing causality. Future prospective studies are needed to account for the changes in beverage consumption over time as soda consumers may switch to diet soda and these changes may be related to weight status,” said study senior author Nicola McKeown, Ph.D.


Health & Wellness

World Diabetes Day on November 14: Interesting Facts

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The global recognition of World Diabetes Day November 14 allows people around the world to understand and gain more awareness about the disease. The annual event is being carried out by the World Health Organization and the International Diabetes Federation as a way to make people aware of diabetes and to address the increasing risk of the disease.

Diabetes continues to be one of the most prevalent diseases globally. In 2013, more than 380 million people were diagnosed with diabetes, with most of the cases having Type 2 Diabetes. Projections estimate the cases to increase to almost 600 million by the year 2035. It has also become one of the leading causes of death, which is probably the reason why world governments spend a lot of money on diabetes treatment and studies.

As we recognize World Diabetes Day today, here are some interesting facts about the awareness campaign:world diabetes day logo

  • November 14 is the birthday of Canadian scientist Frederick Banting who discovered insulin (together with colleague Dr. Charles Best) as a treatment for diabetes.
  • The first World Diabetes Day was celebrated in 1991 as a response to the increasing risk of the disease.
  • The event’s simplistic logo is a blue circle, which is considered the global symbol for diabetes. The circle shape signifies life, health and unity. The color blue is aligned with the color of the United Nations flag.
  • The World Diabetes Day focuses on a different theme every year. This year will focus on “healthy living and diabetes”, particularly on eating healthy. Key messages to be used in this year’s campaign are the following: “Make healthy food the easy choice,” “Healthy eating: make the right choice,” and “Healthy eating begins with breakfast.”
  • The International Diabetes Federation has more than 230 member associations across 160 nations.
Health & Wellness

Anti-Parasite Medicine May Help Diabetics

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In the fight against type 2 diabetes, it may be a parasite-fighting medication that helps diabetics the most. diabetes in older adults

New research led by Victor Shengkan Jin from Rutgers University, and published in the journal Nature Medicine, shows that a modified version of the drug niclosamide, which is used to kill intestinal parasites, can also attack diabetes at its source. 

Jin and his colleagues managed to eliminate fat in the liver of lab mice using the modified form of niclosamide, called niclosamide ethanolmine salt (NEN). This “improved the animals’ ability to use insulin correctly and reduce blood sugar,” Jin said.

Essentially, type 2 diabetes occurs when excessive fat accumulates in the liver and muscle tissue, rendering the body unable to effectively use insulin to metabolize blood sugar in the body. As a result, glucose remains in the bloodstream, damaging tissue and causing blindness, kidney damage, heart disease, and other health problems.

With this new drug able to rid the liver of excessive fat, it is hoped that it will be able to make it possible for the body to start using insulin effectively again. The drug burned excess fat through a process called mitochondrial uncoupling, which Jin likened to an automobile.

“The cell is like a car and the mitochondria are the engine,” Jin said in a statement. “What we’re doing inside cells is like putting the car’s transmission into neutral by uncoupling it from the transmission. Then you step on the gas so the engine runs full throttle but the car doesn’t move. If too much of the fuel in the cell is fat, you keep burning it until the fuel gauge reaches empty. Without the interference of fat, you hope that sugar will then enter the cell normally.”

Jin theorized that once the fat from the liver and muscle tissues are cleared, the cells will be able to respond to insulin, enabling them to interact with glucose, and reversing diabetes entirely.

The drug hasn’t been tested on humans yet, but its results in mice are seen as highly encouraging.


Health & Wellness

Scientists hopeful that human gut cells can create insulin

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Scientists from Columbia University Medical Center in New York City are hopeful that cells residing inside the human gut can be retrained to produce insulin.diabetes in older adults

For people with type 1 diabetes, their body’s natural insulin-producing cells, known as pancreatic beta cells, are destroyed by their immune system, meaning they cannot produce their own insulin.

Insulin-producing cells have been created before using stem cells, but these cells do not yet fully function like natural insulin-producing cells, the Columbia research team explained.

However, by simply turning off a particular gene, the Columbia scientists were able to convert cells in the human gut into cells that make insulin. They said the findings suggest that it may be simpler to reeducate existing cells than to replace the cells lost in type 1 diabetes using stem cell technology.

“People have been talking about turning one cell into another for a long time, but until now we hadn’t gotten to the point of creating a fully functional insulin-producing cell by the manipulation of a single target,” study senior researcher Dr. Domenico Accili, a professor of medicine at Columbia, said in a university news release.


Health & Wellness

New breakthrough for people living with diabetes

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An artificial pancreas may enable people living with type 1 diabetes to eat what they want without having to worry about insulin injections. type 1 diabetes prevention using autoantibodies

The device, developed by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston University, consists of an automated pump that releases the hormones insulin and glucagon and a glucose monitoring system controlled by an iPhone app.

The researchers have already been testing the device on patients.

“We encouraged them to eat whatever they wanted while they wore the bionic pancreas,” said Dr. Steven Russell, an endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who led the study. “They went on a diabetes vacation, eating ice cream, candy bars, and other things they normally wouldn’t eat — like taking out a new sports car and seeing what it can do.”

In the study, published online in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers found 52 adults and teens who used the mobile system for five days had healthier blood sugar levels compared to when they used standard treatments that required them to check their own blood sugar levels and determine how much insulin to inject via a pump device.

“This is not a cure,” said study coauthor Edward Damiano, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Boston University who holds a patent on the software that makes the automatic dosing decisions. “It’s taking diabetes management to its ultimate potential and unburdens people with type 1 diabetes from thinking about all the things that go into managing diabetes every day of their lives.”

Health & Wellness

New Type of Sweetener Could Potentially Lower Blood Sugar

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A new type of sweetener, made from the same plant as tequila, might help lower blood sugar and aid in weight loss. However, research on the new sweetener has so far only been done with mice and it is not yet known if it will work on humans. diabetes testing

Agavins, which come from the agave plant, were found in mice studies to trigger insulin production and lower blood sugar and help obese mice lose weight, researchers told the American Chemical Society last week.

The reason agavins are able to do this is because they are not absorbed and metabolized by the body like sucrose, glucose and fructose are, meaning it’s impossible for them to elevate blood glucose levels according to research by Mercedes G. López, a researcher at the Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados, Biotechnology and Biochemistry Irapuato, in Guanajuato, Mexico.

Plus, agavins boost the level of a peptide called GLP-1 (short for glucagon-like peptide-1), which triggers the body’s production of insulin, aiding the body’s natural blood sugar control. And, being a type of fiber, agavins can make people feel fuller and reduce appetite, López’s research shows.

“We believe that agavins have a great potential as light sweeteners since they are sugars, highly soluble, have a low glycemic index, and a neutral taste, but most important, they are not metabolized by humans,” read the study abstract. “This puts agavins in a tremendous position for their consumption by obese and diabetic people.”

However, people shouldn’t expect to see agavins on store shelves any time soon, as more research will need to be done to see if they produce the same effect on humans as they had in mice.

Health & Wellness

Study: Type 2 Diabetes Risk Shared Between Spouses

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“In sickness and in health” is what a married couple vow during their wedding day. Unfortunately, when it comes to diabetes, couples are more likely to be talking about the “in sickness” part.

couple drinkingA new study released by Canada’s McGill University Health Centre shows that people diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes will most likely share the disease with their spouse. No, diabetes is not contagious or airborne, but it’s somehow related to a shared lifestyle. This is an additional risk factor, aside from diabetes being a disease passed on from one family generation to the next.

“When we talk about family history of type 2 diabetes, we generally assume that the risk increase that clusters in families results from genetic factors. What our analyses demonstrate is that risk is shared by spouses,” according to lead study author Kaberi Dasgupta in a news release.

The study revealed that living with a partner with Type 2 Diabetes increases your chances of getting the disease by 26 percent. The results were analyzed from more than 75,000 couples across six earlier studies on diabetes risk factors: genetics, age, financial status, among others.

The risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes increases due to unhealthy lifestyle choices, so living with someone who makes these unhealthy choices will lead you to do the same. As a result, your chances of getting diabetes will also rise, according to the study published in the BMC Medicine journal.

The team of researchers believe that diabetes prevention should be done by the couple together, by choosing healthier options, eating the right food, and engaging in a more active lifestyle.

Health & Wellness

Google Aims to Make Finger Pricking for Diabetics a Thing of the Past

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Google has gone medical with its tech innovations by working on development of a contact lens that will use special sensors to monitor diabetes blood sugar levels. diabetes

The lens works by measuring blood sugar levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniature blood-sugar sensor embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. The lenses check blood sugar once a second and may feature tiny lights that would come on as an early warning of dangerous blood sugar levels.

“Uncontrolled blood sugar puts people at risk for a range of dangerous complications, some short-term and others longer term, including damage to the eyes, kidneys, and heart,” the project’s co-founders, Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, wrote on Google’s blog. “A friend of ours told us she worries about her mom, who once passed out from low blood sugar and drove her car off the road.”

Currently, diabetics have to rely on pinprick blood tests to monitor blood sugar levels. However, tears can also show blood sugar levels, although they are difficult to collect.

Google’s announcement doesn’t give details of medical trials or when the lenses might be available. It says it is working with the FDA and looking for partners to help develop the lenses.

“It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies, which are helping to refine our prototype,” the project team says. “We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.”