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Also of interest: End of Year Research Roundup

As I read the medical news, I bookmark many articles that aren't significant enough to form the basis of a blog post or which reinforce points I've already documented with quality research on the main Blood Sugar 101 web site. Many of these are discarded as time goes by, but when I went through the past year's accumulation, I ran into a few that I thought you might find interesting.

What I'm going to do here is give you the links to a dozen of the most interesting articles and studies I've collected over the past year, which didn't make the cut for a whole blog post but are still worth reading.

1. 90,000 years ago so called paleo humans were already eating grains. The quasi-religious belief that early humans ate a grain and starch free diet has never been well supported by actual research. Though there were a very few human societies that were eating animal-only diets in the 19th century, they lived in extreme environments with extenuating circumstances that made a broader diet impossible. This study pushes back the evidence that "hunter gatherers" ate grains and starches another 80,000 years. There are plenty of good reasons to cut down on carbs, but the diets of people living hundreds of generations before us are not among them.

2. Coronary Artery Calicification (CAC) scores explain the dismal results in the Veteran's study. The Veteran's study, which found no improvement in cardiovascular death rates with tight control and a higher level of hypos, has been used to argue that it is dangerous to lower blood sugar to normal levels. This study re-analyzed the data and found that that the lower a person's CAC score was, the more effective tight control was in preventing them from having heart attacks. It makes sense that if you wait until your arteries have mostly turned into rock, blood sugar control alone won't be be enough to save you.

3. Diabetic nerve damage in the bone marrow may be what causes diabetic retinopathy. This study suggests a fascinating new mechanism to explain how diabetic blood sugars damage organs. The bone marrow sends out stem cells to repair organs, but when the nerves in the bone marrow are damaged by blood sugar-caused neuropathy the feedback loop controlling this process breaks down. This may lead to tissue overgrowth elsewhere in the body as stem cells go where they aren't needed.

4. Bis-phenol A levels in human correlates to heart disease. This study looks at NHANES data, a lot of it, and finds the connection to be strong. Bis-phenol A is strongly associated with the risk of obesity in humans, too.

5. Bis-phenol A is found in high concentrations on retail receipts and most dollar bills. Other significant sources are canned food (which you eat any time you eat in a restaurant) because cans are lined with this plastic, too.

6. The most common Type 2 Diabetes gene TCF7L2 appears to lower the beta cell's sensitivity to normally secreted incretin hormones. This probably explains why incretin hormone drugs like Byetta work very well for some people, not at all for others.

7. The earlier metformin is started, the better off people with diabetes are. Taking metformin within 3 months of diagnosis doubled the length of time it was an effective method of controlling blood sugar. This data was gathered from a group of people eating high carb diets and maintaining blood sugar levels high enough to damage and kill their beta cells. (They had A1cs near 7%). Metformin taken with a lowered carb intake that normalizes blood sugar will stay effective even longer.

8. A disturbing round-up of neglected study data shows that statins not only are not effective for women but may increase cardiovascular risk in women. The author of this review points out that the FDA approves statins for women based on data from male-only studies and have not reviewed subsequent studies suggesting they raise cardiovascular risk for some women.

9. High maternal DDE blood levels lead to obesity in their babies after birth. DDE is another hormone-mimic organic chemical found in our environment. This is yet another explanation for the terrifying rise in childhood obesity and diabetes that has nothing to do with "lifestyle choices" unless you consider breathing and drinking polluted water "choices."

10. Metformin (in a mouse study) appears to block formation of the Tau protein associated with Alzheimers disease and several other forms of dementia. Though mouse studies are often misleading, because "diabetic" mice have a completely different genetic profile than humans with Type 2 diabetes and because mice are adapted to completely different diets than humans, we do know that people with Type 2 diabetes are less likely to get classical Alzheimer's disease than is the population at large. So it may be possible that their use of metformin may play a role. If you have a family history of classic Alzheimers (the kind characterized by amyloid deposits in the brain on autopsy) or Pick's disease, this may be another reason to take metformin. Unfortunately, people with diabetes get more vascular dementia than the population at large.

11. Hypothyroidism artificially raises A1c because of its effect on the blood cell, not necessarily because blood sugar is higher. This may explain why some people report their blood sugar improves after starting thyroid replacement therapy. If you are hypothyroid, this finding suggests you should trust your meter over your A1c.

12. More large-scale evidence that antidepressants are a significant factor causing Type 2 diabetes. The DPPT study found that over 10 years steady antidepressant use more than doubled the risk of developing diabetes except among those taking metformin.


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