New diabetes breakthrough ‘bigger than the discovery of insulin’

New diabetes breakthrough 'bigger than the discovery of insulin'

In this April 29, 2012, file photo, a 19-year-old diagnosed with diabetes gives herself an injection of insulin at her home in the Los Angeles suburb of Commerce. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

There’s no known cure for Type 1 diabetes, so for 3 million Americans, an insulin pump or regular insulin injections form an imperfect and temporary solution. And it’s one that doesn’t always keep some of the disease’s worst outcomes, including blindness and limb amputation, at bay.

Scientists have long sought a better solution, and a team at Harvard is now announcing that, 15 years into its research, it has successfully coaxed human embryonic stem cells into ones that produce insulin.

When those cells were transferred to diabetic mice, they behaved as healthy cells do and regulated blood sugar. “We can cure their diabetes right away—in less than 10 days,” researcher Doug Melton tells NPR.

Six months later, that was still the case, reports CBS News, which calls the research possibly “the biggest breakthrough in years toward a cure.” Because while scientists have been able to achieve a similar end with insulin-producing cells sourced from cadavers, they’ve struggled with how to get the quantity they needed.

Now researchers have “the ability to make hundreds of millions of cells,” Melton says. “It’s a huge landmark paper,” an outside researcher tells NPR. “I would say it’s bigger than the discovery of insulin.” For Melton, the issue is deeply personal: Both his children, now in their 20s, were diagnosed with the disease as kids.

Among the next steps is to move to clinical trials in humans, possibly in as few as three years. (Another announcement related to blood sugar made waves last month.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Huge Breakthrough in Quest for Type 1 Diabetes Cure

Coffee may be able to lengthen your life and lower your risk of depression

The Washington Post

A cup of coffee being poured

© Richard Eskite Photography/Getty ImagesA cup of coffee being poured

The headlines about coffee’s impact on your health seem to change as quickly as the time it takes to drink a cup. Should you savor every drop or try to cut down? Here’s what we know right now:

It may lengthen your life.

True, coffee drinkers are more likely than nondrinkers to smoke, eat red meat, skimp on exercise and have other life-shortening habits, according to a large 2012 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

But even after adjusting for such factors, they found that people age 50 to 71 who drank at least one cup of coffee per day had a lower risk than nondrinkers of dying from diabetes, heart disease or other health problems when followed for more than a decade. That may be due to beneficial compounds in coffee such as antioxidants — which might ward off disease — and not caffeine. Decaf drinkers had the same results.

It may make you happier.

Coffee is not just a pick-me-up; it also has been linked to a lower risk of depression. In a study led by the Harvard School of Public Health that tracked 50,000 women for 10 years, those who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day were 20 percent less likely to develop depression than nondrinkers. Another study found that adults who drank two to four cups of caffeinated coffee were about half as likely to attempt suicide as decaf drinkers or abstainers. The researchers speculated that long-term coffee drinking may boost the production of “feel good” hormones such as dopamine.

It contains many good-for-you chemicals.

For most Americans who drink coffee, it provides more anti­oxidants than any other food, according to Joe Vinson, a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton. But it’s also a top source of acrylamide, a chemical whose link to cancer is being investigated.

It may cut your risk for Type 2 diabetes.

A recent Harvard-led study of more than 120,000 men and women found that those who increased the amount of caffeinated coffee they drank per day by more than one eight-ounce cup, on average, were 11 percent less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those whose coffee habits stayed the same. And those who decreased their daily intake by at least a cup per day, on average, were 17 percent more likely to develop the disease.

The method matters.

Cafestol, a compound in coffee grounds, has been found to increase levels of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol. Brewing with a paper filter helps remove the substance. Coffee made other ways, including French press and espresso, has higher levels of cafestol.

It’s not for everyone.

More than 500 milligrams (about four to five cups) of brewed coffee per day can cause side effects including insomnia, irritability and restlessness, says registered dietitian Maxine Siegel, manager of product usability and foods at Consumer Reports. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, heart and muscles. So if you have an anxiety disorder, irritable bowel syndrome or heart disease, or if you take certain medications, watch your consumption or opt for decaf. And if you have acid reflux, you might want to skip coffee altogether because the acidity could exacerbate it.


Silent Killers of Your Metabolism

Silent Killers of Your Metabolism

March 27, 2014 | By

Your metabolism is responsible for turning calories into energy. A slow metabolism can lead to a build-up of calories, stored as fat for later use. Ultimately, this leads to unwanted weight gain and, if unchecked, obesity. In the following infographic, Rockwell Nutrition highlights a number of factors that are wreaking havoc on your metabolism.

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Blueberries, Grapes and Apples Linked to Lower Risk of Diabetes

Blueberries, Grapes and Apples Linked to Lower Risk of Diabetes


A large cohort study involving researchers from the U.S., U.K. and Singapore, which focused on individual fruit consumption and risk of diabetes, reveals that certain fruits—but not juices—may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in adults. The study pulled data from three studies: the Nurses’ Health Study )NHS 1984-2008), the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHS II 1991-2009) and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS 1986-2008).

In total, there were 187,382 participants, both men and women, who took part in the study, and participants who had diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer at the start were not included. The researchers used food frequency questionnaires every 4 years in order to analyze the participants’ diet, and ten fruits were used in the study: grapes or raisins; peaches, plums or apricots; prunes; bananas; cantaloupe; apples or pears; oranges; grapefruit; strawberries; blueberries. Additionally, fruit juice, such as apple, orange and grapefruit juice, was included.


Over the course of the study, 6.5% of the participants developed diabetes, but the researchers found that consuming three servings per week of blueberries, grapes, raisins, apples or pears reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 7%. However, the results also showed that the greater amount of fruit juice an individual drank, the more their risk for type 2 diabetes increased.

In general, substituting fruit juice with whole fruits decreased this risk, but strawberries and cantaloupe were the exception to this finding. The researchers write in the study, “Individual fruits might not be equally associated with risk of type 2 diabetes in that fruits have highly variable contents of fiber, antioxidants, other nutrients, and phytochemicals that jointly may influence the risk.”


They add that their results support current recommendations to eat more and a diverse range of whole fruits in order to prevent diabetes. Medical News Today recently reported that eating fruits, such as apples, pears and bananas, could cut your risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Provided by Rebecca McGonigle, Wellstyles Newsletter, October 2013, Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT).


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Diabetes Lifetime Costs—As Expensive as a House?

Diabetes Lifetime Costs—As Expensive as a House?

A recent report breaks down the costs of living with type 2 diabetes over the course of a lifetime. The dollar amount is eye-opening, and so are the differences in costs between men and women. To calculate the costs of living with type 2 diabetes on an individual basis, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Research Triangle International created a simulation model that could compile the costs of both treating the condition and managing its complications. This is as opposed to only focusing on the overall economic burden of treating type 2 diabetes in a year.


The findings reveal that on average, a person with type 2 diabetes spends more than $85,000 over the course of their lifetime on treating the disease and managing complications. Additionally, the point at which a person is diagnosed with the disease can affect how much they spend during their lifetime. For example, a man diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when he is between 25 and 44 will spend $124,700. But women from the same age range will pay over $5,000 more, at $130,800 during their lifetime. Researchers note that costs go down the later in life a person is diagnosed with the condition.


The costs include not only those directly related to treating diabetes, but also to treating complications like kidney disease, nerve and eye damage, heart disease, amputations and stroke. The amount of money spent each year on treating diabetes has significantly risen recently. Robert Ratner from the American Diabetes Association says that direct medical costs for treating diabetes totaled $176 billion in 2012. “This is up 40% in 5 years,” he says.

On the more positive side, he notes that complications from diabetes have decreased due to better blood sugar level control. In fact, he points to a 50% decrease in amputations and a 35% decrease in dialysis or transplantation for kidney disease in the past 12 years. However, Ratner says that the benefits of these positive outcomes are overshadowed by the number of new cases of the disease each year. Ratner says, “When you look at the annual costs, you can clearly see this is an untenable rate of growth.”


Quite a few studies have recently suggested ways to decrease the incidence of the disease. For example, some recommend that “catch-up” sleep could prevent type 2 diabetes, while others recommend taking short walks to lower risk of the disease.


Provided by Rebecca McGonigle, Wellstyles Newsletter, September 2013, Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT).


Can a Healthy Diet Reverse Diabetes?

Can a Healthy Diet Reverse Diabetes?

A good diet and exercise are essential to managing type 2 diabetes. But can committing to a healthy diet really reverse the condition? Experts say it’s possible for some.

Medically reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH

A well-balanced, healthy diet is often touted as the best way to prevent, manage, and treat a whole host of conditions, from cancer to heart disease. And now, research indicates that a healthy diet may be enough to reverse type 2 diabetes, especially when combined with a regular exercise program. In fact, one small study conducted in the United Kingdom found that people with type 2 diabetes were able to reverse the condition by following a calorie-restricted diet. Although a healthy dietis not enough to reverse diabetes in everyone, it is the first step for anyone managing the condition.

“Nutrition is the most important first-line treatment for diabetes and pre-diabetes,” explains Betul Hatipoglu, MD, an endocrinologist at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. “Restricting calories will improve blood sugar levels dramatically, most likely by affecting the liver’s sugar production.”

Creating the Right “Diabetes Diet”

It’s important to understand that, in this context, the word “diet” means the food that you eat every day — not a short-term fix to lose weightor temporarily treat diabetes. “The diet you choose should be something you can follow the rest of your life,” says Susan Spratt, MD, an endocrinologist at Duke Medicine in Durham, N.C. “That’s why we don’t recommend fad diets, like those that eliminate multiple food groups from your diet, because those diets are unsustainable.”

Your diabetes diet, which is best when personalized for your needs, shouldn’t just focus on cutting calories, but also make the most of the calories you eat. “A healthy diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and heart-healthy oils,” says Angela Ginn, RD, a certified diabetes educator, program coordinator at the University of Maryland Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology at Maryland General Hospital in Baltimore, and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It encourages healthy food preparation, such as baking, broiling, roasting, and grilling meats, as well as lowering your salt intake.”

Another tenet is limiting saturated fats, says Hatipoglu, who recommends that less than 7 percent of daily calories come from saturated fats. It’s also important to avoid trans fats and to limit cholesterol intake to no more than about 200 milligrams daily.

Hatipoglu recommends sticking to a generally low-carbohydrate diet and choosing lean proteins, which help to keep you full and energized without too much added fat. Good protein choices include lean fish and poultry without skin. If you opt for beef or pork, choose the leanest cuts, avoid frying your food, and trim off any fat. Dairy products can also be part of a healthy diabetes diet, but stick to non-fat or low-fat options for milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy.

Here are general recommendations for a healthy diet to help manage diabetes:

  • Eat three meals each day, with healthy snacks in between as needed to regulate blood sugar.
  • Stick to a regular meal schedule, eating at the same time each day.
  • Eat appropriate portion sizes.
  • Eat more vegetables.
  • Sip water or low-calorie beverages throughout the day.

Factors to Reverse Diabetes

In addition to your diet, exercise is an essential part of keeping diabetes under control, and maintaining a healthy weight is a key goal. “Reversing type 2 diabetes is possible with diet and exercise, especially if it is newly diagnosed, but it’s more likely if weight loss can be achieved and, of course, maintained,” says Hatipoglu.

Still, even if you maintain a healthy weight and diet, diabetes reversal is not guaranteed. “We see ‘skinny’ type 2 diabetics as well, so it is not always possible to reverse diabetes,” says Hatipoglu.

If you are able to reverse diabetes, the battle is still far from over. “Diabetes is a chronic condition,” explains Hatipoglu. “Some of our patients will do very well with diet and exercise, but another stress in their life — such as another illness, a medication, or a psychological stress — might push them back to the diabetic state. So, it is important to work with a health care provider and monitor blood sugars to catch problems early.”

Also, Spratt says to remember that diabetes is a progressive condition. Even though your diabetes may be under control now, you might eventually need medications as part of your diabetes treatment. Eating a healthy diet, however, can help stave off diabetes complications and keep other chronic conditions, like high blood pressure, in check. There is simply no downside to eating a healthy diabetes diet.

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