Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Would Vitamin Help Diabetics?

For people who are unable to get adequate amount of vitamins and minerals from their diet, taking vitamin supplements could be a feasible alternative to help them meet their nutrition requirements. The elderly, strict vegetarians, people on low-calorie diets and those that are malnourished are some good examples of this type of people.

How about diabetics? Would vitamin help control their condition? Most health organizations associated with diabetes do not advocate using vitamins. In fact, they usually warn against using large doses of vitamins or supplements, which could possibly cause adverse side effects.

In April 28, 2010 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers from the University of Western Ontario and the Robarts Research Institute in London, Ontario reported that patients with diabetic nephropathy would suffer rapid deterioration of the kidneys if treated with high doses of Vitamin B. Moreover, these patients are likely to face a higher risk of heart attack and stroke than patients who took a placebo.

Diabetic nephropathy is a progressive kidney disease because of longstanding diabetes mellitus, and it is a prime indication for dialysis in many Western countries. Even with the many treatments available right now, about 40 percent of the 21 million Americans who have diabetes still develop diabetic nephropathy.

Prior observational studies have shown that there is an association between high concentrations of plasma total homocysteine and the risk of developing diabetic nephropathy, retinopathy, and vascular diseases, including myocardial infarction and stroke. B-Vitamin therapy using folic acid, Vitamin-B6 and Vitamin-B12 is known to be capable of lowering the plasma concentration of homocysteine.

With an aim to developing a new approach to treatment, the researchers conducted a study to see if B-Vitamin therapy would actually slow progression of diabetic nephropathy and prevent vascular events in 238 patients with Type-1 or Type-2 diabetes. Meanwhile, the placebo-controlled trial was carried out at 5 university medical centers in Canada between May 2001 and July 2007.

Patients were prescribed with single tablet of B-Vitamins with folic acid (2.5 mg/d), Vitamin-B6 (25 mg/d), and Vitamin-B12 (1 mg/d), or matching placebo. After an average period of 31.9 months, patients with Vitamin-B were found to have a faster rate of reduction of kidney filtering and so the kidney function, as compared with those on a placebo course. For patients with the diabetic nephropathy, the risk of heart attack and stroke were also higher than those who took placebo.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Skinny-Thigh Could Cause Heart Disease

Overweight or obesity has been shown by earlier studies to be one of the many risk factors, like diabetes, smoking, hypertension, and high cholesterol, of heart disease.

A study appeared in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on September 4, 2009 reported that women and men with thighs smaller than 60 cm (or about 23.6 inches) in circumference would face a much higher risk of premature death and heart disease. It is believed that this is the very first to examine the implications of thigh size on heart disease.

Danish researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital looked at data obtained from 1,436 men and 1,380 women. The body measurements of these participants were taken in Demark in the late 1980s. Over the next 12 years, more than 400 participants died and another 540 suffered either cardiovascular or heart disease, and the ratio of men to women was roughly 2 to 1.

The findings showed that survivors without any heart disease had significantly thicker thighs, after taking into account of other risk factors of heart disease. People with thigh size smaller than 60 cm had a much higher risk of premature death.

Nevertheless, 60 cm was the threshold. This means that larger (than 60 cm) thigh size did not seem to offer any additional benefit for either sex. In fact, those with the thinnest thighs (less than 18 inches around) were more than 3 times more likely to die compared with those with the 60-cm thighs, and more than twice as likely to have heart disease.

It is possible that, according to researchers, a lack of lower body muscle mass could affect a proper glucose and lipid metabolism, which in turn put the body at risk of developing disease. As such, they proposed further study to find out the reasons.

Meanwhile, suggestion by the researchers to use thigh size for assessing heart disease risks together with other measures like body mass index (BMI) and waist and hip circumference met objection from some health experts. The opposers doubted that the thigh size could be clinically useful.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

What Else Can Cause Obesity?

While many studies have blamed the increasingly sedentary lifestyle and the availability of low-cost high-calorie foods to be the culprit for obesity epidemic in the developed countries, there might be other reasons behind this.

Researchers from Emory University School of Medicine and the University of Colorado at Boulder found that the bugs that help digest food could also cause the body to gain weight if they are not properly regulated. If wrong kinds of bacteria were dominant, they could cause a low-level inflammation leading to a pre-diabetic condition and an elevated appetite, as explained in a paper published on March 4, 2010 in the Journal “Science”.

In the study, researchers examined mice that were genetically engineered to be deficient in a key immune system protein, namely TLR5, which helps cells sense the presence of bacteria. Such protein plays an important role in the intestinal community, meaning it knows not to apply too much force and does not harm the good bacteria.

In the absence of TLR5, the immune system can still regulate bacteria but it just could not do it properly. When the bacterial composition changes, a low level inflammation sets in and insulin receptors are desensitized.

To justify the theory, a series of experiments were preformed on mice. The results showed that if the TLR5-deficient mice were given unrestricted diets, they ate 10 percent more and gained 20 percent more weight than the normal mice. Even if their food was limited, the TLR5-deficient mice were still less sensitive to insulin than the normal mice.

The TLR5-deficient mice also developed metabolic syndrome, which could cause weight gain, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, and it could raise the risk for developing diabetes and heart disease.

While the study was limited to mice, experts still believe they might applicable to humans as well. The findings suggested that excess caloric consumption is not only the result of undisciplined eating style but also changes in appetite and metabolism caused by the intestinal bacteria.