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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Leptin and Diabetes Connection

Leptin and diabetes as a topic has been touched upon by the Chinese Academy of Sciences researchers at the Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology. They reported that the development that may happen to the pika's leptin protein may be due to the cold and not hypoxia. The pika is a mammal that is normally cold-adaptive.

Pikas are small and do not hibernate. They only live in cold zones at high elevation or at high altitude. They are restricted to the region of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. This area is sometimes called the roof of the world as it has an average altitude of >3000 meters and located at high latitude.

Climate-wise, the two notable characteristics of the Plateau are hypoxia and low temperature so during their development, the pikas have become tolerant to low temperature and hypoxic. Their metabolic rates are high and so is their oxygen use ratio in order to deal with the cold and hypoxic region.

Dr. Zhao said that their research team showed that when compared with other similar mammals, the pika leptin has a unique characteristic indicating its functional variation. This may be a common trait of the whole pika family due to the cold survival location.

Since the leptin plays a vital role in the metabolism of energy, glucose and lipid, this study clarifies the significant ecology issues of the way small mammals respond to very stressful environment. It also explains the importance of the pika leptin's role in the way the pikas adjust to where they live.

This might help us understand and recognize other ways to treat the diseases that are linked to metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity. Dr. Zhao said that their research team is now continuing their investigations of the pika leptin in order to confirm their finding.

I have long been interested in this topic since I first read it a few years ago. After going back to research it further, I found there has been a giant leap in its progress. Now studies have proven that it is not only beneficial for weight loss but rather a small amount of it can help reverse the diabetes.

The researcher from Rockefeller University, Jeffrey Friedman mentioned in the news release that they found the significant impact of this potent leptin was undetectable. So now we have another weapon in our arsenal to help in our battle and that is the story of leptin and diabetes.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Diabetes and Pollution Linked?

Diabetes and pollution was the topic of discussion in Lancet. In its issue it reported on the need for research on the possible link between the pollution in the environment and diabetes. Drs. Julian Griffin and Oliver Jones from Cambridge emphasized the need to investigate this probable link.

Not much is known about the link between type 2 diabetes and pollution in the environment so the two doctors encouraged the investigation of the POP's (persistent organic pollutants) effect on resistance to insulin which we know can lead to diabetes.

In their presentation, both Drs. Griffin and Jones mentioned the research on the POP's link that was reviewed by their peers. This included the study conducted by Dr. D. Lee which showed an extra strong connection between the type 2 diabetes risk and the POP's level in the blood.

The POP that was particularly found is the one known as organochlorine compounds. It is interesting to note that in the research conducted by Dr. Lee there was no correlation between diabetes and obesity among those who had low POP's in their blood.

So it looked like that thin people whose POP's level in their blood were high had a higher risk for diabetes than if they were overweight but with low readings of POP. This indicates the correlation between diabetes and the environmental pollution. Of course there are other diabetes risk factors.

Then, Dominion, a Canadian newspaper, reported that the evidence between diabetes and pollution is growing especially among the native people. One of every four adults in this group who live in Canadian reserves have type 2 diabetes. According to the National Pollutant Release Inventory of Environment Canada, 212 of these communities live near pulp mills and others that produce furans and dioxins.

Dr. Jones said that this possible link does not routinely mean that environmental pollution causes diabetes but if there is a correlation, the implications could be huge. There is not much data on this as of this writing because the focus of researches is on obesity and heredity. Environmental pollution has not been considered as a possible cause of the disease.

This hypotheses on the POP effect should be tested by using tissue or cell cultures to be certain that diabetes can occur, Dr. Jones suggested. If it is found to be the cause then a therapeutic method can be developed to help people who are affected by this. So there is a need for more studies on diabetes and pollution.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Obesity and Diabetes, Could They Make Type 2 Diabetes Health Loss Double by 2023?

Obesity and diabetes must be in the minds of the University of Queensland researchers when they said health loss due to type 2 diabetes will be more than twice by 2023 in Australia. This is the prediction of the University of Queensland scientists who also said that health loss through the other major reasons will be down.

To arrive at the above conclusion, the researchers used a measurement called DALY which is acronym for "disability adjusted life year". They say that one DALY is equals to one year of healthy life that is lost. The DALY stands for the difference between the present health status and the model for reaching old age.

How did they arrive at their prediction? They evaluated and calculated the data from 1993 to 2003 in Australia regarding the injury and disease. This study by Stephen Begg et al then measured the loss of health from these and other factors.

Stephen Begg said that the health loss among those in the lower economic status is higher by 31.7%. When comparing the population between those living in remote areas and big cities, the health loss in the former is 26.5% higher.

These researchers examined 14 risk factors like smoking, alcohol intake, increased body mass, lack of physical activity and high blood pressure. Dr. Vos said that all these can be eliminated through intervention. So it follows that health loss through diabetes can be stopped as well.

Dr. Vos added that there is a need for new ways so that the Australians will be motivated to lose weight just like the campaign they had about smoking that lowered the risk for cardiovascular disease. This way health loss through diabetes could be reduced too.

Two things I like about this report of mine. One is that it mentions the fact that all the risk factors can be eliminated through proper intervention. In such a case, can diabetes be far behind? Of course not. It can be stopped as well. If not through lifestyle changes, then by golly, we are going to do it through intervention, however painful that could be.

The other thing that I like about this report is that it mentions about getting motivated to lose weight. Really, obesity is quite a problem that needs to be addressed and met head on. I am glad to hear that the first lady, Michelle Obama is stepping on the plate and getting an initiative to fight both obesity and diabetes.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Diabetics Have New Hope in New Medical Center

Dr. Mariam Harmas said the new BDI million diabetes education center announced will have a gym, swimming pool and the Bahrain Diabetes Society offices. The announcement came as a 26-year old woman advised people to follow their doctor's order so that they won't lose their kidney and feet like what happened to her for ignoring her diabetes.

The center for rehabilitation and diabetes education will be located in A'ali. They are requesting sponsors for the project and giving statistics on the number of type 1 diabetics that has grown to more than twice from 1993 figures in Bahrain.

The consultant pediatrician at the Salmaniya Medical complex, Dr. Mansoor Rajab, said the number is still growing. Dr. Rajab is also a diabetologist and endocrinologist. He said that the figure in 1993 showed that seven to eight people per 100,000 had type 1 diabetes. Now that number has grown to 20 people suffering from type 1 diabetes out of every 100,000.

In Bahrain, there are now 1000 children suffering from type 1 diabetes, Dr. Rajab added. And the statistics for type 2 diabetes is not any better. Due to inactive lifestyle and unhealthy meals, the number of type 2 sufferers is also growing. Diabetes now affects 35% of women and 25% of men.

The discussion on the alarming statistics was held when the 2007 ambassador of ACHC (Arab Children Health Congress) Habiba Al Tawqi visited Bahrain and spoke to diabetic children. She said it is very important to control diabetes by taking the medication and changing lifestyle.

Ms. Tawqi said she lost both her feet and kidney because she didn't take her medication regularly and didn't eat a healthy diet. She is a graduate of Omani tourism and has been diabetic starting at two years old. But she only started her problem in 1998 when she rebelled against her parents and doctors and didn't follow their advice.

But now she learned how to fight because she does not want to lose anything more. Her goal is to talk to as many teenagers as possible so they will understand the condition better. The wife of the ruler of Dubai Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Princess Haya bint Al Hussain, sponsored Ms. Tawqi's visit.

The head of the Health and Medical Services in Dubai, Wafaa Ayesh, said people with diabetes could live a long life with a healthy lifestyle and medication. By this lifestyle, he meant, eating a healthy diet and having enough physical activity.