Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Medical Advances Against Diabetes Haven't Benefited Women, Study Says

In a finding that partly challenges the conventional wisdom that women live longer than men, a new study suggests that the medical advances of the last few decades against diabetes haven't benefited women.

According to a recent article, researchers found that the death rates of diabetic men dropped in recent decades, while those of diabetic women increased. It's not clear why the discrepancy exists. "I do not have a clue," said Dr. Larry Deeb, President of Medicine and Science for the American Diabetes Association (ADA), when asked why women are falling behind. "But I do know that it argues that something we're doing isn't right. If you're a woman, and you have diabetes, it may be we're not aggressive enough about taking care of you."

In the new study, researchers led by Edward Gregg, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, examined health surveys spanning 1971 to 2000 to determine the death rates of Americans with diabetes. The researchers looked at about 27,000 people.They found that among diabetic men, the death rate from all causes dipped from 42.6 to 24.4 deaths per 1,000 persons between the two time periods. But among diabetic women, the death rate actually rose from 18.4 to 25.9 per 1,000, even as the life span of non-diabetic women grew longer.

An estimated 9.7 million American women have diabetes, and almost one-third of them don't know it. Women with diabetes are more likely to have a heart attack, and at a younger age, than women without diabetes, according to the ADA.

For more information about diabetes and related services, please visit the diabetic resource center at http://www.freedomed.com.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug May Help Treat Type 2 Diabetes

A recent Swiss study has found that long-term glucose levels dropped significantly after 13 weeks of treatment with a drug designed to treat juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The study found that daily injections of Anakinra led to a drop in long-term levels of glucose in the blood, while they increased in people given a placebo. To assess whether or not this could have an effect on people with type 2 diabetes, the researchers randomly assigned 36 people to receive a once-daily placebo injection and 34 people to receive once-daily injections of 100 milligrams of anakinra for 13 weeks. The study was published in the April 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Sometimes, beta cells -- insulin-producing cells -- in the pancreas are destroyed in type 2 diabetes as they are in type 1 diabetes. Through previous research, the study’s authors learned that a substance called interleukin-1 beta was a factor in the demise of these cells in people with type 2 diabetes. The drug Anakinra is an interleukin-1-receptor antagonist, which means it can block the action of interleukin-1 beta. "Our study is proof of concept for a mechanism underlying the disease and (may possibly) block its progression," said Dr. Marc Donath, one of the study’s authors, who added, "Interleukin-1 beta may be involved in other complications of the disease, such as arteriosclerosis. Therefore, this therapy may also prevent cardiovascular events. However, this remains to be shown."

Anakinra was well tolerated by the study participants, and Donath and his colleagues plan on conducting larger, follow-up studies of the medication. "This study points to inflammation as definitely having a role in the (diabetes) story," said Dr. Stuart Weiss, an endocrinologist at New York University Medical Center, and a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine. But, Weiss said that while this avenue of research is "worth pursuing, I wouldn't get my hopes up for a clinical application, especially since the drug appears to lose its effectiveness over time." Additionally, Weiss pointed out that it appeared the drug was more effective in thinner people. "The authors don't really discuss this, but it's an interesting finding -- it's not what we'd expect."

For more information about diabetes and services for diabetics, please visit American Diabetes Services.