Thursday, 3 April 2008

Diabetes linked to prostate cancer

Type 2 diabetes affects more than 200 million people worldwide and, according to the WHO, will reach 300 million by 2025. Type 2 Diabetes is characterized by high levels of blood sugar due to either a low level of insulin being produced or insulin resistance (meaning the insulin doesn’t work well). The incidence of Type 2 diabetes has skyrocketed in the last 30 years, affecting first America and Europe and now reaching epidemic proportions in Asia. It’s a major cause of heart disease and stroke, as well as the most common cause of blindness, kidney failure and amputations in U.S. adults.

Although the progress of diabetes in the world closely follows non-genetic trends like sedentary lifestyles and the rise in obesity, researchers believe it’s our genes that make some of us more vulnerable than others. As a result, scientists have searched the whole human genome from hundreds of thousands of people from different countries, some with diabetes and some without, looking at billions of DNA information.

A new finding published March 30th in the Journal of Nature Genetics has just identified 6 more genes associated with Type 2 diabetes, bringing the total number of genes or genomic regions involved in diabetes to 16. This shows a lot of progress since just last year when only 3 were identified. According to the scientists:

"Each of these genes provides new clues to the processes that go wrong when diabetes develops, and each provides an opportunity for the generation of new approaches for treating or preventing this condition."

It's thought that these 6 newly-identified genes are involved in regulating the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
Interestingly, a variant of one of the new genes discovered also plays a role in prostate cancer. This is the second gene linked with Type 2 diabetes that is also linked to prostate cancer. However, this second one was associated with an increased risk of diabetes and a decreased risk of prostate cancer. In this new one, there’s no known relationship between them, yet.

This connection has important implications for the future design of drugs for these conditions, according to the researchers.

They also point out that there's a known overlap between genes associated with Type 2 diabetes and with heart disease in another genomic region.


Some additonal information:

Risk factors for the development of type-2 diabetes
Close family member like parents or siblings with diabetes
African American, Hispanic or Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander
Age more thant 40
Having high blood sugar during pregnancy or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 lbs

Symptoms of diabetes
Frequent urination (polyuria),
Excessive thirst (polydipsia),
Hunger and eating more (polyphagia),
Loss of weight despite eating more.

Less common symptoms may include:
Head aches and pains,
Blurring of vision,
Dry skin,
Dry mouth,
Impotence (in a male),
Vaginal yeast infections (in a female),
Difficulty in healing of cuts and scrapes,
Excessive infections.


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