Posted by on April 19, 2013 - 8:26am

Population-wide weight loss during an economic crisis in Cuba in the '90s led to declines in death from diabetes and heart disease, which rebounded once the country got back on its feet, researchers found.   During the crisis, which occurred between 1991 and 1995, shortages in food and gas meant people ate less and walked or biked more, Manuel Franco, MD, of the University of Alcala in Madrid, and colleagues noted online in BMJ.

Cubans lost 9 to 11 pounds (4 to 5 kg) on average during that period, and diabetes mortality stabilized; it then fell 50% during a slow recovery period between 1996 and 2002, but rose again by 49% from 2002 onward, they reported.   Heart disease mortality dropped by 34% during the recovery period, but the rate of decline slowed after 2002, the researchers found.

Cuba maintained a  public health surveillance through its economic crisis, according to Walter Willett, MD, DrPH, of the Harvard School of Public Health, who wrote an accompanying editorial.

The economy has since recovered, largely after the year 2000, and now the prevalence of obesity in that nation has exceeded pre-crisis levels, the researchers said.

About 5 years into the crisis -- around 1996 -- the researchers found an "abrupt downward trend" in mortality from diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and all causes.

"This period lasted an additional six years, during which energy intake status gradually recovered and physical activity levels were progressively reduced," they wrote. "In 2002, mortality rates returned to the pre-crisis pattern."


Posted by on March 26, 2013 - 10:42am

Diabetes affects the body in many ways.  Celebrate Diabetes Alert Day (March 26) by learning how diabetes can effect the female body!   Take a few minutes to look at this female anatomy chart to learn more!


Posted by on February 21, 2013 - 11:07am

A new study from France suggests that women who drink large amounts of diet soda are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes. The findings also support the previously documented association between high intake of regular sugar-sweetened beverages and the condition, report Guy Fagherazzi, from the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, Villejuif, France, and colleagues in a study published online January 30 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Prior research into the relationship between diet soda (artificially sweetened beverages) and type 2 diabetes has produced conflicting results, and while the current study does not necessarily imply causation, there are some biologically plausible mechanisms, the researchers suggest.

And given that diet sodas are "considered — and marketed — as healthier than sugar-sweetened beverages," the findings require further investigation, they say. In the meantime, the authors advise that "a precautionary principle could be applied to the promotion of [artificially sweetened beverages]."

"Our results — in accordance with a recent joint scientific statement of the AHA and ADA — strongly suggest the need to conduct randomized trials that evaluate metabolic consequences of [artificially sweetened beverage] components, such as artificial sweeteners, to prove a causal link between [artificially sweetened beverage] consumption and type 2 diabetes," the study authors conclude.

Am J Clin Nutr . Published online January 30, 2013. Abstract

Medscape Medical News © 2013  WebMD, LLC.  From an Article by Miriam Tucker



Posted by on February 16, 2013 - 11:49am

When people with Type 2 diabetes are diagnosed with cancer – a disease for which they are at higher risk – they ignore their diabetes care to focus on cancer treatment, according to new Northwestern Medicine® research. But uncontrolled high blood sugar is more likely to kill them and impair their immune system’s ability to fight cancer.

However, people with Type 2 diabetes who received diabetes education after a cancer diagnosis were more likely to take care of their blood sugar. As a result, they had fewer visits to the emergency room, fewer hospital admissions, lower health care costs, and they tested their blood sugar levels more often than people who didn’t have the education. They also had more hemoglobin a-1c level tests at their doctor’s offices. The latter is a critical marker of how well someone has managed their diabetes and blood sugar over the last three months.

“People with diabetes hear cancer and they think that it is a death sentence, so who cares about diabetes at this point?” said June McKoy, MD, director of geriatric oncology at the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. “But if they’re not careful, it’s the diabetes that will take them out of this world, not the cancer. That’s why this education is so critical when cancer comes on board. Patients must take care of both illnesses.”

McKoy is the senior author of the study recently published in the journal Population Health Management. Lauren Irizarry, a fourth-year medical student at Feinberg, is the lead author.

Uncontrolled high blood sugar can result in kidney damage and failure as well as blindness and amputation of the feet as blood vessels are damaged by excess sugar. In addition, Type 2 diabetes dampens the immune system and hampers the body’s ability to fight cancer.    People with diabetes have a higher incidence of liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer, bladder cancer, and endometrial cancer.

Source:   Northwestern NewCenter


Posted by on November 20, 2012 - 3:07pm

Men may not have ovaries, but that doesn’t mean they can’t develop some of the features of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). That’s one of the reasons Andrea Dunaif, MD, Charles F. Kettering Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism, would like to change the way scientists think about the complex genetic disease.

“It should really be seen as a metabolic disorder affecting men as well as women across the lifespan, rather than a female reproductive disorder with metabolic features,” Dunaif said.The current definition of the disorder is rooted in history. PCOS was first identified in 1935 as a gynecologic condition known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome, named after the physicians who described it. Since then, the understanding of PCOS has evolved. Symptoms in women often first become apparent in adolescence and may include irregular periods and excess hair on the face, chest, or back – all caused by high levels of male hormones. The syndrome is seen as a major health concern because it is frequently associated with obesity and substantially increases risk for type-2 diabetes and, perhaps, heart disease. It is also among the most common disorders of reproductive-age women, affecting up to 10 percent of the population worldwide.

PCOS runs in families, indicating that there is likely a genetic susceptibility to the disorder. This observation first raised the question as to whether men in PCOS families might also be affected. Dunaif’s research group has been able to show that brothers and fathers of women with PCOS also have elevated male hormone levels and face the same long-term health risks, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. 

“Because this is a genetic condition, our research studying families has provided a powerful resource for finding causal genes,” said Dunaif. “We are very fortunate to have recruited more than 500 families over the years. Many of these families are ideal for the application of the newest technologies for identifying disease genes, such as whole genome sequencing, because we have DNA available from affected and unaffected sisters, as well as both parents.”

Andrea Dunaif, MD, is co-chair of the steering committee for the first NIH-sponsored evidenced-based methodology workshop on PCOS.

Thus far, the research points to the likelihood that the same gene defect is responsible for both the reproductive and the metabolic abnormalities. Sponsored by several National Institutes of Health grants, Dunaif and her co-investigators, Margrit Urbanek, PhD, associate professor of medicine-endocrinology, and M. Geoffrey Hayes, PhD, assistant professor of medicine, are leading an international collaboration to map genes for PCOS.

“Ultimately, we hope that we can find what causes the condition so we can develop drugs to reverse or prevent PCOS,” Dunaif said.

Dunaif is also co-chair of the steering committee for the first NIH-sponsored evidenced-based methodology workshop on PCOS, which will be held in December on the NIH campus. An independent panel with broadly-based expertise will develop a scientific statement based on the information presented at this conference. The consensus statement will advance both clinical care and future research in the field. In addition, Dunaif hopes that this statement will highlight the major health implications of PCOS so that the condition is recognized as an important medical disorder.

“PCOS is a major women’s health problem, and the fact that it is genetic means that the male relatives of affected women are at increased risk for the adverse metabolic outcomes associated with PCOS,” she said.


Posted by on October 14, 2012 - 10:18am


The rising rates of diabetes during pregnancy was explored in a new study reported at a recent Obesity Society meeting.   Kelly Hunt, PhD, Medical University of South Carolina reported that the estimated rate of diabetes during pregnancy (combining gestational a pre-pregnancy diabetes)  increased from 5% to 8.7% among white women and from 5.7% to 9.7% among black women.

She said diabetes rates overall increased because of the obesity epidemic and the rising age at which women are giving birth.

"One thing that's good is that the awareness of diabetes during pregnancy has increased a lot in the past 20 years, which is important because you want either pre-pregnancy diabetes or gestational diabetes to be treated during pregnancy so that the impact on the infant is minimized," Hunt said.

Exposure to diabetes during pregnancy has been associated with birth defects, higher birth weight, and greater risks of childhood and adult obesity in the offspring.

"More interventions are needed, both to reduce the prevalence of diabetes prior to pregnancy and to prevent women who have gestational diabetes from subsequently developing type 2 diabetes," she added. "So I would say the take-home message is that we have a lot more work to do and with the obesity and diabetes epidemics, we really need to be thinking about how they're impacting the next generation."

Primary source: The Obesity Society
Source reference:
Hunt K, et al "Prevalence estimates of diabetes during pregnancy in United States women, 1980 to 2008" Obesity Society 2012; Abstract 744-P.


Posted by on August 15, 2012 - 8:40am

It is no wonder why the weight-loss industry is a $20 billion per year industry.  Dieters spend money on diet books, diet drugs and weight-loss surgery.  108 million people in the United States are on diets and typically attempt four or five diets a year.  85% of dieters are women.

Some diets preach low-calorie, some are low-carbohydrate.  Some allow for only eating grapefruit or cabbage soup.  Some say it’s only about how much you eat and the amount of time spent exercising, while others say not all calories are created equal and it is about what we eat as well as how much of it.  We are constantly bombarded by different information and different diets.  No wonder we cannot keep the weight off.

A promising study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association may finally set the record straight.  It found that a specific mix of carbohydrate, fat and protein might be ideal.  It also suggested that not all calories are created equal, meaning that calories can have different effects on the body.

The study followed 21 adults ages 18 through 40 for four years to determine the effects of various diets on the ability to burn calories following weight loss. At the start of the study, the participants had a BMI over 27, which is considered overweight or obese.  The participants were originally placed on a diet to lose 10%-15% of their body weight.  After the initial weight loss, researchers placed the participants on three different diets in a random order each for four weeks at a time.  All diets maintained the same total number of calories.  However, they did differ in their carbohydrate, fat and protein content.

The low-fat diet required that 60% of calories came from carbohydrates, 20% from fat and 20% from protein.  The low-glycemic diet required that 40% of calories be derived from carbohydrates, 40% from fat and 20% from protein in order to prevent spikes in blood sugar.  The very low-carbohydrate diet (“Atkins”) required that 10% of calories came from carbohydrate, 60% from fat and 30% from protein.

Researchers measured participants’ energy expenditure as well as other aspects of metabolism and concluded that the total number of calories burned daily differed with each diet.  Researchers also studied hormone levels and metabolic measures concluding that they too varied by diet.

On average the very-low carbohydrate diet burned calories most efficiently with participants burning 3,137 calories daily.  The low-glycemic diet burned 2,937 calories per day, 200 less than the very-low carbohydrate.  The low-fat diet burned 2,812 calories daily.

While researchers did conclude that it improved metabolism the best, don’t switch to the very-low carbohydrate diet just yet.  The participants showed higher levels of risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, including the stress hormone cortisol.

The low-glycemic diet resulted in only a 200 calorie difference and showed similar benefits to the very-low carbohydrate diet, with less negative effects.  A low-glycemic diet consists of less-processed grains, vegetables and legumes.  According to researchers, this may be the best diet for both long-term weight loss and heart disease prevention when coupled with exercise.

A low-glycemic index diet emphasizes foods based on how they affect blood sugar levels.  Foods, specifically carbohydrates since they have the most effect on blood sugar, are given a score between 0 and 100.  High scores of 70 and up include white and brown rice, white bread, white skinless baked potato, boiled red potatoes and watermelon.  Medium scores between 56-69 include sweet corn, bananas, raw pineapple, raisins and some ice creams.  Examples of low scoring foods of 55 and under include raw carrots, peanuts, raw apple, grapefruit, peas, skim milk, kidney beans and lentils.

The diet does not require counting carbs, counting calories or reducing portion sizes.  It only directs dieters to the right kind of carbohydrates in order to keep blood sugar levels balanced.  Specifically, lower glycemic diets are digested less rapidly by the body, which raises the blood sugar in a regulated, balanced way; whereas higher glycemic foods and beverages are digested more rapidly causing a blood sugar spike followed by a drastic decline.  Since low-glycemic index foods are digested more slowly, they remain in the digestive tract longer, potentially controlling appetite and hunger.  This can also reduce the risk of insulin resistance.

The study shows that a low-glycemic diet can work for long-term weight-loss, as it is easily sustainable because whole food groups are not removed.  Furthermore, it may reduce the risk of serious diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


Weight-Loss Stats:


Mayo Clinic on the Low-Glycemic Diet:


Posted by on June 4, 2012 - 11:32am

Interesting research on the outcomes of "The Biggest Loser" reality TV show highlight important news for diabetics! According to Robert Huizenga, MD , the medical advisor for the show, diabetic and prediabetic contestants were off medications within a few weeks of starting the intensive exercise regimen that are part of the intervention.    The contestants who were part of the study, averaged about 5-6 hours of TV watching a day and they were exercising about 120 minutes per week BEFORE they went on the show.   The exercise regimen while on the show comprised about 4 hours of daily exercise that included intense aerobics and resistance training for 2 hours and another 2 hours of moderate aerobics.

The study consisted of 17 men and 18 women who were followed for 24 weeks; 17 participants had normal glucose tolerance, 12 had prediabetes; 6 had diabetes.  The mean weight was 315 lbs!

Within one week biomarkers for those with prediabetes/diabetes improved significantly.   A positive change in blood pressure was almost immediately noticed and everyone was off their blood pressure medications within 5 weeks!

Interestingly, by week 5, "all diagnostic criteria for prediabetes, diabetes, and hypertension were absent in each participant, despite discontinuation of all diabetes and hypertension medications," according to the study.

Huizenga and colleagues found that at 24 weeks, the percentage of body fat decreased from 48% to 30%, which Huizenga said is "somewhat more than is lost with Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery."    He found that the participants tended to sit less after going through the program.

At the end of the program, participants are told to exercise for 90 minutes a day for the rest of their lives. Huizenga said he is often told by those listening to him that a daily 90-minute exercise regimen is impossible because everyone has such busy lives.  He replies,  "It's about setting priorities. Time is not the issue; priorities are the issue."

Primary source: American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists
Huizenga R, et al "Rapid resolution of diabetes related risk markers and hypertension in morbidly obese individuals with an exercise-centric intense lifestyle intervention" AACE 2012; Abstract 1330.


Posted by on May 23, 2012 - 4:28pm

Heart disease and stroke deaths drop significantly for people with diabetes!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) healthier lifestyles, better disease management are helping people with diabetes live longer.   Death rates for people with diabetes dropped substantially from 1997 to 2006, according to a study published May 22 in the journal Diabetes Care. Among the most promising findings,

  • Deaths from all causes declined by 23%.
  • Deaths related to heart disease and stroke dropped by 40%.
  • Although an adult with diabetes is likely to die at a younger age than one who does not have diabetes, the difference is getting smaller.

These findings parallel other surveillance reports showing improved medical treatment for cardiovascular disease, better management of diabetes, and some healthy lifestyle changes contributed to the decline. On average, people with diabetes were less likely to smoke and more likely to be physically active than in the past. Better control of high blood pressure and high cholesterol also may have contributed to improved health among diabetics.  However, obesity levels among people with diabetes continued to increase ☹.

Posted by on March 24, 2012 - 4:45pm


Eating more white rice may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, especially for Asian populations, Qi Sun, PhD, of Harvard and colleagues reported in the British Medical Journal.  Patients who ate the greatest amounts of the grain had a 27% greater risk of developing the disease than those who ate the least, and the relative risk was higher among Asian patients.

"Although rice has been a staple food in Asian populations for thousands of years, this transition [to more sedentary lifestyles and greater availability of food] may render Asian populations more susceptible to the adverse effects of high intakes of white rice, as well as other sources of refined carbohydrates, such as pastries, white bread, and sugar sweetened beverages," they wrote.

The glycemic index of white rice is higher than that of other whole grains, largely due to processing. It's also the primary contributor to dietary glycemic load for populations that consume rice as a staple food, such as Asians.   Sun and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of four prospective cohort analyses in Asian and Western populations, totaling 352,384 patients with follow-up ranging from 4 to 22 years.

Overall, Sun and colleagues found a positive association between white rice intake and type 2 diabetes, which was stronger in Asian populations.   Asians with the highest intake had a 55% greater risk of diabetes than Asian patients who ate the least rice.   The risk was also heightened in Western populations, but the confidence interval was not significant..

In secondary analyses, the association appeared to be more pronounced in women than in men, they added.

They cautioned, however, that the meta-analysis was limited by the observational nature of the included studies and by their reliance on food frequency questionnaires to assess dietary intake. Also, they did not analyze consumption of brown rice, since only one of the four studies examined this food.

In an accompanying editorial, Bruce Neal, MD, of the University of Sydney in Australia, cautioned that the "interpretation of the observed association, and, in particular, determination of the likelihood of causality, are problematic."   Neal warned that the highest and lowest levels of rice intake varied greatly between studies, and that what's really needed is a "more sophisticated analysis based on primary rather than summary data."    Hopefully, we will have better research tools in the future to better assess dietary factors.


Hu EA, et al "White rice consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: meta-analysis and systematic review" BMJ 2012; DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e1454.
Neal B "White rice and risk of type 2 diabetes" BMJ 2012; DOI: 10.1136/bmj.e2021.