Thursday, 31 March 2011

Penn Researcher Links DNA Aging Clock to Diabetes

Penn Researcher Links DNA Aging Clock to Diabetes

Though some people stay energetic and wrinkle-free longer than others, we're all programmed to break down, deteriorate, and eventually, to die.

In our cells are tiny aging clocks made from pieces of DNA called telomeres. Rather than holding genes, the telomeres cap the ends of our DNA strands, preventing them from fatal fraying. Over the years, the telomeres shorten, like candle wicks, until they reach their ends.

Now, scientists are learning how Type 2 diabetes - the most common kind - is linked to the shortening of those telomeres.

On Tuesday at the University of Pennsylvania, medical researcher Mary Armanios spoke about her latest results in telomeres and diabetes - showing how the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas shut down when their telomeres erode to the end.

That understanding, she said, could lead to new approaches to treat or prevent the disease, which is growing more prevalent.

She presented her findings this month in the journal Public Library of Science One.

Armanios, who works at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, said she became interested in studying telomeres after meeting a college-age man with gray hair, lung problems, and bone-marrow failure, all caused by a genetic disease called dyskeratosis congenita. People with the disease have very short telomeres, so their aging clocks run out of time unusually fast.

The telomeres are often compared to caps on shoelaces because, when intact, they protect the parts of the genetic code at the ends of chromosomes.

Every time a cell divides, the telomeres get a little shorter. Once they're gone, a mechanism kicks in that causes the cells to die.

This might seem like something medical science would be scrambling to stop, but the cell death protects us from cancer by eventually stopping malignant cells from growing. So we can't just turn the whole thing off.

In her work, Armanios uses genetically engineered mice with unusually short telomeres, making these already short-lived creatures even quicker to gray and grow old. Besides all their other problems, these mice quickly develop high blood sugar, the hallmark of diabetes.

What seemed to be happening, she said, was that the animals' short telomeres were causing the premature shutdown of insulin-secreting cells. These cells aren't dead but put up a closed-for-business sign and stop doing anything. Armanios said perhaps their research would point to a way to wake them up.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

5 Ways to Live With Diabetes

5 Ways to Live With Diabetes

Chances are, if you're African American, you know someone with diabetes. We, as a culture, are disproportionately affected by this very serious disease. In fact, 14.7 percent of African Americans over 20 years old have diabetes. This isn't just a miniscule problem in our community; it's an epidemic.

The good news is, diabetes is not a death sentence. There are things we can do to keep diabetes under control, and even prevent the onset. We spoke to Constance Brown-Riggs, author of Living Well With Diabetes, to get a better idea of the disease and what we can do to keep ourselves healthy. While not a sufferer herself, Brown-Riggs got into studying diabetes because, like most of us, a lot of her family members have been stricken.

Here are a few tips and tricks Constance shared with us to keep us on track for a healthy life.

1. Accept the diagnosis!
According to Brown-Riggs, a lot of people struggling with diabetes are also fighting what she calls "deny-abetes." This is the tendency for adults to ignore their diagnosis and continue to live life as they did before this disease.

Instead of pretending it does not exist, "watching blood sugars, frequent exercise, watching carbohydrate intake and getting off any dangerous medications" will help put diabetes under control. These methods (under the advice of your physician, of course) are all very simple and effective ways to regulate your condition and prolong your life.

2. "Diabetes doesn't have to take the sweetness out of life."
Constance shared with us a bit of information that is sure to bring relief to diabetics around the world: "It is a myth that people living with diabetes cannot have any sugar at all," she states. There are a number of diabetes-friendly diets that include options such as ice cream.

The problem is not in the sugar intake; it is the fact that people are not monitoring the amounts of certain foods they are having. Paying attention to how much of each food you are eating will make a huge difference.

3. "Don't major in minors."
Lots of people diagnosed with diabetes spend so much time trying to nitpick every single thing they eat, which can often lead to frustration. Frustration, in turn, can very easily lead to completely giving up. Brown-Riggs explained a simple way to make sure you aren't taking in too much in the way of carbohydrates and sugars while still enjoying the foods you love without feeling restricted: the plate method.

This means a quarter of your plate is protein, a quarter of your plate is starch and the remaining half is vegetables. This is a great way to have meals without feeling the stresses of overeating and micromanaging.

4. It's okay to snack.
No one expects diabetics to completely give up on snacking. In fat, Constance suggests eating six smalls meals a day (snacks included) to stay healthy and maintain a well-balanced diet. A few diabetic-friendly snack ideas she gave us include whole grain crackers and peanut butter, fruit with yogurt, low fat cheese and trail mix.

While salad is always a healthy snack option, be careful with the dressing. "Keep salad dressing on the side and stick with ones that are clear," says Brown-Riggs. "The creamier dressings tend to be more unhealthy and the fat-free dressings have more sugar than the regular ones."

5. Monitor. Monitor. Monitor.
Just because it is okay to stick with eating food favorites like macaroni and cheese doesn't mean we should go overboard. Brown-Riggs advises to "look at the amount of carbohydrates in the food and measure your blood sugar after you eat it. This will show you how your body reacts to certain foods, making it even easier to keep the disease in control."

This is in an integral step in keeping such a serious disease under control. By knowing how everything you eat will affect your body, it is much easier to learn how to keep your sugar at a safe level.

Diabetes does not have to be a death sentence. If we exercise, watch what we eat and pay close attention to the amount of sugar and carbs we consume on a daily basis, we have a chance to combat this disease. If we continue down the road that we are on, the future of our children does not look bright. What choice will you make?

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Nicotine May Increase Diabetes Complications

Nicotine May Increase Diabetes Complications

Smoking isn't good for anyone, but there's new proof that people with diabetes can suffer greater complications from the disease if they smoke cigarettes.

Researchers from California State Polytechnic University have found that nicotine raises blood sugar levels.

High blood sugar levels are linked to eye and kidney disease, along with other complications from diabetes.

Scientists also suggest diabetics limit their use of nicotine patches and other replacement products.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Actos Prevents Diabetes in High-Risk People

Actos Prevents Diabetes in High-Risk People

A new study has found that Actos, a medicine treats onset diabetes, could also reduce the diabetes risk in people with prediabetes.

The study, which was published Wednesday in New England Journal of Medicine, followed 602 prediabetics whose obesity, ethnicity, family history and other factors put them at high risk of developing diabetes.

The research findings showed that Actos, generically known as pioglitazone, reduced the odds of developing Type 2 diabetes by 72 percent in people with prediabetes.

Only 2.1 percent of those who took Actos developed diabetes each year over the three years of the study, compared with 7.6 percent of those who took a placebo.

Lead author of the study Ralph DeFronzo said, "The 72 percent reduction is the largest decrease in the conversion rate of pre-diabetes to (Type 2) diabetes that has ever been demonstrated by any intervention, be it diet, exercise or medication."

However, Actos can have significant side effects, including water retention, moderate weight gain, and increased risk of bone fractures.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Blood Test to Predict Diabetes Risk

Blood Test to Predict Diabetes Risk

Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have suggested that measuring the levels of small molecules in the blood could predict diabetes risk as much as a decade before first symptoms appear.

They said that the finding the levels of five amino acids not only indicated increased diabetes risk in a general population but also could differentiate, among individuals with traditional risk factors such as obesity, those most likely to actually develop diabetes.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Amino Acids Flag Risk of Diabetes

Amino Acids Flag Risk of Diabetes

Raised levels of certain amino acids in the blood could flag up the possibility of someone developing diabetes later in life, researchers in the US have discovered. The finding provides another potential predictor for the risk of developing diabetes - along with obesity and abnormal blood sugar levels - and opens new avenues to investigating the fundamental biochemistry of how diabetes develops.

A team from Harvard University in Boston, led by Robert Gerszten and Thomas Wang, screened blood samples from people who had enrolled in a major medical project, called the Framingham Heart Study, in the early 1990s. Of 2,400 participants, around 200 developed type 2 diabetes during the following 12 years. The research team used mass spectrometry to analyse metabolites in the blood of the people who went on to develop diabetes, compared with a control population in the study, with similar characteristics but who did not develop the condition.

The scientists discovered that five amino acids - isoleucine, leucine, valine, tyrosine and phenylalanine - were likely to be at increased levels in the people who went on to develop diabetes, up to 12 years later, even though they had no other signs at the time. In particular, elevated levels of isoleucine, phenylalanine and tyrosine pointed to greater risk. Individuals with the highest level of these three metabolites had a four- to five-times greater risk of developing diabetes than those with the lowest levels.

The findings were confirmed by screening blood samples of participants in another long-term study in Sweden, some of whom also developed diabetes later in life.

Gerszten says that identifying people with higher risk of developing diabetes would allow intervention at an early stage to prevent or delay the condition, such as radical changes in lifestyle or the use of drugs.

'We now need to figure out what is the cart and what is the horse,' Gerszten says. 'In other words, are these early markers of the disease, or do they participate in the causal pathway that leads to the condition? We are currently investigating this.'

'This is some way off being considered a routine diagnostic test,' says Iain Frame, director of research at the charity Diabetes UK. 'But it nicely highlights the potential use of surrogate biomarkers in helping us to not only identify those at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but also to help shed light on the role of certain metabolites in promoting development of the disease

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

History of Gestational Diabetes?

History of Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is diabetes that is found for the first time when a woman is pregnant. If you had gestational diabetes during your pregnancy, you and your child have a lifelong risk for developing diabetes, a serious disease that can lead to health problems such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease and amputations. The good news is there are steps you can take to prevent or delay diabetes and lower that risk for yourself and your child.

"Women with a history of gestational diabetes can lower their chances for developing diabetes by taking steps to reach and maintain a healthy weight, making healthy food choices, and being active," according to Judith Fradkin, M.D., of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. "Keeping a healthy lifestyle as a family is good for everyone."

Keep up healthy habits -- even after the baby is born.
Many women who have gestational diabetes see a dietitian or a diabetes educator to guide them in developing healthy habits during pregnancy. But what many women don't realize is that it's just as important to keep up with those healthy habits even after the baby is born.

If you are a woman who had gestational diabetes, it is important to get tested for diabetes 6 to 12 weeks after your baby is born, and at least every three years after that.

It is also important to reach and maintain a healthy weight by making healthy food choices, such as following an eating plan lower in fat and calories and high in fiber, and being active for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week. Even if women do not reach their "goal" weight, research shows that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help reduce risk.

Busy? Build physical activity into your day one step at a time.
Physical activity is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight and preventing type 2 diabetes. Set a goal to be active at least 30 minutes, 5 days per week. If you have not been active, start slowly, building up to your goal. Take small steps to include physical activity in your day-to-day routine.

Busy moms can use these tips to get started:
-- Park your car farther away from the store, movie theater, your office, etc.
-- Get your friends and family involved. Set a regular walking date, such as after dinner. Or do something that all ages can enjoy -- shoot hoops, take a bike ride, or just dance around the house.
-- Take a walk during your lunch break or push the baby's stroller around the mall.
-- Don't just watch the kids at the playground ... play with them.
-- Deliver a message to a co-worker in person instead of by e-mail, and take the stairs instead of the elevator.
-- Exhausted from a busy day and just want to plop on the couch in front of the TV? Use the commercial breaks to stretch, take a quick walk around your home, do some sit-ups, or march in place.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Diabetes Belt Includes 15 US States

Diabetes Belt Includes 15 US States

There's a new kind of belt across the US: a "diabetes belt" which includes 15 US states and 644 counties.

Diabetes is definitely one of those things which has swept over America and now even affects the very young. This epidemic is something that everyone should be concerned about. Hopefully, now that the CDC has been able to identify the states in the "diabetes belt," more can be done about educating and helping those who are affected with the disease.

Apparently, the study found that 12 percent of residents living in the "diabetes belt" zone have diabetes. The rate of residents who live outside of the zone with diabetes is at 8.5 percent. The 15 states affected are "Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, [Mississippi], North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia."

CDC's Lawrence E. Barker stated, "Variations in preference of diet, based on culture, may be a contributor."

Well, knowing is only half of the battle. Now, it's time to take action and roll out a plan to educate people on their diets. It may be difficult to change one's diet but what's more important is one's life. A nice piece of juicy fried chicken and a thick slice of chocolate cake may wreck havoc on your body in ways you don't even realize.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Poor Diabetes Management has Severe Risks

Poor Diabetes Management has Severe Risks

After many years of dealing with poorly controlled diabetes, an individual’s body may develop serious health problems. Continuously high blood sugars will destroy the various tissues of the body, and these patients will experience damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves and skin. But the trouble doesn’t end there. A weakening of the body’s immune system will inhibit the body’s ability to fight infection, and the use of excess insulin, in non-compliant patients, or in patients whose have brittle diabetes (diabetes that is hard to control), accelerates the process of arteriosclerosis, with resultant heart and brain disease.

The eye problems may arise from changes in lens thickness. An increase in blood sugar levels will cause the lens of the eye to swell, resulting in blurring of vision. Eventually cataracts develop, requiring surgery. But diabetic vascular problems may cause other eye problems. As mentioned, both high blood sugar and use of excessive amounts of insulin causes the progression of arteriosclerosis. When arteriosclerosis affects the blood vessels of the eyes, the body tries to compensate by growing new blood vessels. Unfortunately, this process of neovascularization produces “leaky” blood vessels, which can directly destroy the retina (macular degeneration). Additionally, the leaking vessels will deposit blood into the central area of the eye (the vitreous). This clotted blood will act as a weight, and pull the retina down from the back of the eye, severely compromising vision. Fortunately, if employed early enough, laser surgery can stop this process and save sight.

The acceleration of arteriosclerosis, with its destruction of small, nourishing blood vessels can lead to heart attacks and strokes. This small vessel disease of the heart is not amenable to cardiac stenting or cardiac bypass surgery, and the multiple small or “silent M.I.s” that occur leave the patient with a poorly functioning heart and congestive heart failure. Similarly, multiple small strokes in the brain will lead to dementia. However, major heart attacks, and extensive, paralyzing strokes are also found in patients with poorly regulated diabetes, as the amplified problem of arteriosclerosis will also target the larger blood vessels. In the same manner, the kidneys can be destroyed, not only by the small vessel destruction, resulting in damage to the small filtering units of the kidneys (the glomeruli), but also from the accompanying high blood pressure developing from the arteriosclerosis.

The destructive nature of high blood sugar and excess insulin, with its resultant small blood vessel disease (microangiopathy), leads to nerve damage as well. The insulating material of the nerves is disturbed, and nerves misinterpret stimuli, resulting in either unrelenting pain or loss of sensation and numbness. This is called peripheral neuropathy. Although difficult to treat, there has been considerable success in the control of pain with the achievement of better diabetic management, and with the administration of a nerve-membrane stabilizing drug called gabapentin (Neurontin). When large vessel disease affects the extremities, peripheral vascular disease occurs. This worsens the peripheral neuropathy, with both processes leading to the destruction of the muscles and skin of the legs. As would be expected, the peripheral neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease are a major cause of erectile dysfunction in males.

Skin breakdown in the extremities, and along the pressure-bearing areas of the body, results in ulcerations. Because the elevated blood glucose inhibits the migration of infection-fighting white blood cells, these ulcerations are slow to heal, if they heal at all. These wounds tend to persist and even worsen. Gangrene may develop, necessitating amputation of the particular digit or limb. In fact, gangrene of the feet is 100 times more common in diabetics than in non-diabetics. In the same vein, this inhibition of white cell migration limits the body’s ability to fight infection. There is an acceleration of periodontal disease and an increase in urinary tract and yeast infections. Pneumonias and post-operative infections are also more likely, and much harder to treat. Overwhelming sepsis (infection) is frequently a terminal event in these diabetics.

In spite of all of this discouraging information, one must be mindful of the fact that good control of one’s diabetes will mitigate these complications considerably. A well-controlled diabetic can avoid many of these issues and lead a productive and satisfying life. It takes work, and a bit of dedication, but the rewards are worth it. This article is only meant as a reminder of what one faces if not meeting the challenges presented by diabetes. In the next article, we’ll review the practices that are required for good diabetic control.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Is There A Diabetes Cure?

Is There A Diabetes Cure?

While there is no diabetes cure, there have been many strides in the treatment for diabetes and this can help you to keep symptoms under control and give you some hope for the future. Diabetes does not have to control your life and managing your diabetes is one of the best things you can do for your future.

Knowing the symptoms is a great place to start. Uncontrollable thirst is one of the most common symptoms of diabetes and one that most people are aware of. This can lead many people to their doctor and this is often how a diagnosis is made.

Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed as a juvenile. This is the type of diabetes where the person will be dependent upon insulin for the rest of their lives. This is not caused by being overweight and the sufferer has no part in the onset of this type of diabetes.

With the obesity epidemic in the United States, type 2 diabetes is growing faster than ever expected. One of the ways to eliminate type 2 diabetes is to control diet and exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight often stops this type of diabetes in its tracks.

Gestational diabetes only occurs during pregnancy and it is often cured by delivering the baby. There is some research that has been conducted and gestational diabetes may increase your risk for developing type 2 later on in life and this is something that you will want to monitor. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight can prevent this even if you have suffered with gestational diabetes.

Frequent urination is a symptom of all of the types of diabetes. This can be caused by the increased thirst that many sufferers often experience. Dry skin is another common symptom that you will want to talk to your doctor about.

If you are experiencing any numbness in the hands or feet, it can warrant a trip to the doctor. This can help determine if diabetes if the cause, or if something else is going on. Any sores or injuries that are slow to heal can be another indicator that diabetes might be present.

Many people are waiting for a diabetes cure and until then it is important to manage your symptoms properly. There are many treatment options that can help you to lead a normal life. Diabetes can be a bit disruptive to any life, but when you have a strict schedule and a plan of attack, before you know it treating your diabetes will become second nature.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Diabetes Found to Reduce Lifespan by 6 years

Diabetes Found to Reduce Lifespan by 6 years

A new study has found that diabetes can actually reduce your lifespan greatly.

Researchers focused on diabetes patients to see what type of impact the disease would have on their lifespan.

What researchers have found is that diabetes can reduce the life expectancy of those who suffer from it by 6 years.

The study involved over 250 scientists from 25 different countries around eh world.

Developing diabetes in middle age was found to have the highest impact on your health.

Diabetes already is known to lead to heart attacks and strokes, among other health issues, all of which lead to the decreased lifespan.

Patients that develop diabetes in their middle age also are more likely to have health issues with infections, cancers, and liver or kidney problems. A large part of the health issues are unrelated to obesity which commonly are found among diabetes II sufferers.

Over 280 million people now suffer from diabetes all over the world and that number is expected to continue to grow over the upcoming decades.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Scientists Spot Another Gene Behind Type 2 Diabetes

Scientists Spot Another Gene Behind Type 2 Diabetes

Scientists have identified a gene variant present in some people of white European descent who have type 2 diabetes.

Although it's not yet clear how the gene works, it may prove a future target for treatments, among other benefits, say the authors of a study published March 2 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

As with so many gene studies, however, these findings aren't likely to translate into anything clinically meaningful soon.

"This shows an association between this gene and an increased risk of diabetes compared to the general population," said Dr. Steven D. Wittlin, clinical director of the endocrine-metabolism division and director of the Diabetes Service at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

"If we can find out how this gene is associated with diabetes from a pathophysiological point of view, then we can figure out how to intervene, but that's a lot of ifs, and right now we have 92.5 percent of people with diabetes who don't have this gene," said Wittlin, who was not involved in the study.

Between 7 and 8 percent of the patients involved in this study had the gene variant, the researchers found.

Some 250 million people around the world have type 2 diabetes, a disorder in which glucose is not properly metabolized in the body.

The main risk factors for type 2 diabetes are age, being overweight or obese, and family history. Native Americans, blacks and Hispanics also have a higher prevalence of the disease than whites.

Several diabetes-related genes have already been identified, although all of these together account for only 10 to 15 percent of type 2 diabetes cases, an accompanying editorial pointed out.

For this study, investigators at the University of Catanzaro in Italy looked at people with and without diabetes in three populations: about 6,500 Italian patients; close to 2,000 U.S. residents; and about 400 French people.

Among the study participants with type 2 diabetes, about 7 to 8 percent of people in each group had the variant of the HMGA1 gene. In the Italian group, this represented a 16-fold higher risk in people with type 2 diabetes versus the control group.

The gene appears to be involved in insulin resistance, a hallmark of diabetes.

But the presence of the gene in people without diabetes varied immensely (from 0.43 to 4.7 percent), making its effect hard to determine, said the editorial.

Although the experts believe the gene may one day help predict individuals likely to develop diabetes, Wittlin is more circumspect, given the relatively small proportion of people who have the variant.

"In the best of circumstances that are reported in this study, 7.7 percent of patients with type 2 diabetes have this gene variant," he said. "Certainly one can identify patients at risk for type 2 more on the basis of such things as family history or body build."

Another problem with the study is that it was conducted only in white Europeans so "the applicability to other ethnicities is totally unknown," said Wittlin.

Further study of the gene's effect on insulin resistance in other racial groups is needed, the authors noted.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Diabetes Self Help Guide Targets at Risk Group

Diabetes Self Help Guide Targets at Risk Group

Diabetes UK has released a free interactive guide to Type 2 diabetes designed to help people from the South Asian community better manage their diabetes and improve their quality of life.

There are more than two million South Asian people living in the UK today of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi descent who are up to six times more likely to have diabetes than the white population.

The CD-ROM, called "Patient Interaction Education for the South Asian Community", takes the viewer through a journey of understanding diabetes and how it can be managed. It uses interactive animations, voice-over and subtitles to explain what diabetes is, the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, information about fasting and how to test blood glucose levels. The production of the CD-ROM was sponsored by Lilly.

Diabetes UK equality and diversity manager, Jenne Dixit, said, "South Asians in the UK are up to six times more likely to have diabetes than White people, and they are at higher risk from the age of 25 rather than over 40, which is the case in the White population. This free CD-ROM shows viewers what diabetes is, and how to manage it effectively, in an interactive way.

"If not managed properly, diabetes can have serious and life-threatening complications, such as stroke, heart disease, blindness and amputation. I hope that this CD-ROM will give people a better understanding of their condition, and help them to achieve an improved quality of life.

Diabetes Depression and Anger - How do You Vent?

Diabetes Depression and Anger - How do You Vent?

There are days that Type 2 diabetes gets me down. Not just down but downright mad. The anger is very real. It is known that depression is common with diabetes. Anger is often it's companion. Rather than hold it in or allow it to build and explode without control, it helps to channel the energy in healthy ways.

Here are examples of things that put me in a fowl mood:

  • I get mad because I feel diabetes is unfair or others misunderstand.
  • I get mad when I've been following the plan and still struggle with my blood sugar numbers. Little things like the weather, a cold, or my menstrual cycle can raise my numbers and present a challenge.
  • I get mad when I have to take a medication that causes my blood sugar numbers to skyrocket. Sometimes I have to take a steroid for lung problems or hives. Many people with diabetes have lung issues and experience this quandary.
  • I get mad when my A1c is much higher than I thought it would be.

When I feel that swell of anger, I personally find the following things help me channel it out in a healthy way:

  • Exercise. A fast walk or jog can help clear my head and release some of the energy from anger.
  • Breathe. Deep inhales and purposeful exhales sound so simple, it's hard to believe they can possibly be powerful. For me they are.
  • Vent. I find a place to vent where others understand. I seek out diabetes communities online where I can give a good rant among others who understand.
  • Get proactive. Get proactive and make a plan. If the issue is a bad A1c, I set a goal and map out a plan of action.
  • Hit a pinata. Yes, you read that right. I've been known to identify a pinata as diabetes and give it a few good whacks.
I'm sure you readers have some good examples of what makes you angry and how you deal with it in a healthy way.