In The NewsJune 2017
High Cost of Becoming a Diabetic
A study published in February 2017 reveals how expensive it is once one becomes diabetic.*
Compared to those who remain prediabetic, those who convert to diabetes spend $2,671 more per year.
The authors of the study point out that the 3-year “return on investment” of not transitioning to frank diabetes is as high as 42%. These savings are based on what it costs to participate in the National Diabetes Prevention Program compared to letting oneself progress to type II diabetes.
Fortunately, there is a wide range of medications, nutrients and hormones that can reduce excess blood glucose via multiple mechanisms. The authors of this study conclude:
“The results show the importance and economic benefits of participation in lifestyle intervention programs to prevent or delay the onset of type II diabetes.”
Editor’s Note: Routine blood tests for glucose and hemoglobin A1C can detect progression to prediabetes and diabetes. When one starts a glucose-lowering program, regular blood testing of glycemic markers functions as a “report card” on how well you may be progressing.
*Popul Health Manag. 2017 Feb 13.
B Vitamins Protect Against Air Pollution
Vitamin B could help mitigate the impact of damage from a particularly dangerous type of air pollution called PM2.5.*
PM2.5 refers to particles that are under 2.5 micrometers in diameter, roughly 30 times less than the width of a human hair.
Particles that small can be inhaled deep into the lungs. Lung and systemic inflammation can follow, and possibly epigenetic changes (unhealthy cellular mutations).
An international team of researchers, in a first-of-its-kind study, found that daily vitamin B supplementation might be effective in countering damage from PM2.5.
To establish baseline responses, a group of people were exposed to clean air and given a placebo. They then took a four-week course of placebos before being made to breathe polluted air taken from traffic-heavy downtown Toronto, Canada, through an oxygen mask.
This procedure was repeated, but with subjects given a daily B vitamin supplement (1,000 mcg of vitamin B12, 50 mg of vitamin B6, and 2,500 mcg of folic acid) instead of placebos. The results showed that the supplements reduced the ill effects of PM2.5 by 28% to 76%.
One of the study’s authors, Andrea Baccarelli, chair of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, said:
“Future studies, especially in heavily polluted areas, are urgently needed to validate our findings and ultimately develop preventive interventions using B vitamins to contain the health effects of air pollution.”
Editor’s Note: The World Health Organization estimates that PM2.5 exceeds recommended levels in areas inhabited by a whopping 92% of the Earth’s population.
*Available at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/03/07/1618545114. Accessed March 14, 2017.
Public Unaware of Obesity Cancer Risk
The group Cancer Research UK has found that 75% of people don’t know that obesity is associated with increased risk of cancer.*
The organization’s head of health information, Dr. Julie Sharp, said, “A quarter of all UK adults are estimated to be obese, and this has a real impact on their risk of developing cancer. Eating a healthy, balanced diet and becoming more active can help people to keep a healthy weight. And encouraging children and teenagers to do the same can help them to keep a healthy weight later on in life.”
The national survey also found that men are less likely to be aware of the obesity/cancer connection than women, and members of lower-income households were less likely to know as well.
After smoking, obesity is believed by experts to be the next most common preventable cause of cancer.
Editor’s Note: “Cancer isn’t at the forefront of people’s minds when talking about obesity and that’s really concerning,” said Alison Cox, director of prevention at Cancer UK. “Few understand that excess weight increases the risk of several cancers, including some of the most common, such as breast cancer.”
*Available at: http://tinyurl.com/z6bwfcd. Accessed February 27, 2017.
Hormone Replacement Therapy Linked with Better Bone Structure
Menopausal hormone therapy may not only improve bone mineral density but could also help maintain bone structure, according to an article in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.*
The investigation included 1,279 participants in the OsteoLaus Cohort, which enrolled 1,500 Swiss women between the ages of 50 and 80. Of the current study’s participants, 22% were using hormone replacement, 30% were past users and the remainder had never used the therapy. X-ray scans of the spine, femoral neck, and hip provided data used to determine bone mineral density and trabecular bone score—an assessment of underlying bone structure that can help predict fracture risk.
Among current hormone therapy users, trabecular bone scores as well as bone mineral density values were significantly higher in comparison with past users or those who had never used the therapy. Duration of therapy was not associated with bone health.
Editor’s Note: Past users had higher bone mineral density at the lumbar spine and hip and a trend toward higher trabecular bone scores than those who had never used hormone therapy.
* J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016 Dec;101(12):5004-5011.
People Tend to Underestimate Diabetes Risk
A new study found that participants had a tendency to underestimate their chances of developing diabetes.*
The study utilized 1,953 subjects from the population-based German KORA FF4 Study who were not previously known to be diabetic. They were given an oral glucose tolerance test, and were asked to estimate their chances of having undiagnosed diabetes using a six-category scale. They were also asked how likely they felt they were to develop diabetes in the future.
Researchers then cross-tabulated actual glycemic levels with the participants’ perceptions of their individual risk chances and also used an established model to identify factors that determined the subjects’ risk perceptions.
Findings showed that 74% of subjects with undiagnosed diabetes thought their chances of actually having the disease were quite low. Similarly, 72% of those with prediabetes thought themselves unlikely to become diabetic.
Researchers concluded that those with undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes tend to significantly underestimate their risk of currently having the disease or developing it.
Editor’s Note: Prediabetics who believed they were at risk for the full-blown disease tended to consider themselves to be generally unhealthy. They also were associated with having diabetic parents, and being better educated, younger, obese, and female.
*PLoS One. 2017 Jan 31;12(1):e0171152.
Lutein Preserves Intelligence
Research conducted at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign reveals an association between higher serum levels of the carotenoid lutein and better preservation of crystallized intelligence—the ability to use knowledge and skills acquired over one’s lifetime.*
“Previous studies have found that a person’s lutein status is linked to cognitive performance across the lifespan,” noted lead researcher Marta Zamroziewicz.
The study included 76 cognitively normal men and women between the ages of 65 and 75. Blood samples were analyzed for serum levels of lutein and brains were evaluated using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure gray matter volume in the brain’s temporal cortex. Crystallized intelligence was assessed by vocabulary and similarities tests.
Participants whose serum lutein levels were higher performed better in the crystallized intelligence tests and had thicker gray matter in the brain’s parahippocampal cortex, indicating healthier brain aging.
Editor’s Note: “Our analyses revealed that gray-matter volume of the parahippocampal cortex on the right side of the brain accounts for the relationship between lutein and crystallized intelligence,” stated co-lead researcher Aron Barbey. “This offers the first clue as to which brain regions specifically play a role in the preservation of crystallized intelligence, and how factors such as diet may contribute to that relationship.”
*Front Aging Neurosci. 2016 Dec 6;8:297.