Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Type 2 diabetes risk may be influenced by blood type

According to the research team, including Dr. Guy Fagherazzi of the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health at the Gustave Roussy Institute in France, past studies have investigated the association between blood type and stroke, finding people with blood type AB are at higher risk.

In one study that found such an association, the researchers note there was also a higher number of diabetes cases among individuals with blood type AB. Other studies - although small - have reported similar findings. This led them to investigate the link between blood type and diabetes in a larger cohort.

Dr. Fagherazzi and colleagues analyzed data from 82,104 women who were a part of the French E3N study - a cohort of almost 100,000 female teachers that began in 1990.

From an analysis of health questionnaires the women completed, the team identified 3,553 women who received a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes between 1990 and 2008. Blood samples from the women were collected between 1995 and 1997.

Women with blood type B+ at 35% higher risk of type 2 diabetes. The results of the analysis revealed that women with blood type A were 10% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women with blood type O, while women with blood type B were 21% more likely to develop the condition.

Women with blood type AB were found to be at 17% higher risk of type 2 diabetes than those with blood group O, but the researchers say this result was "not statistically significant."

The team then assessed the women's risk of diabetes by their Rhesus factor - the presence of Rhesus antigens in the blood. However, they found there was no difference in type 2 diabetes risk between those who were Rhesus positive (R+) and those who were Rhesus negative (R-).

Next, the team assessed the risk of type 2 diabetes by both women's blood type (A, B, AB or O) and Rhesus factor. Each possible combination was compared with blood group O negative (O-), as this is classed as a universal blood group because it has no A, B or Rhesus antigens present.

The researchers found that women who were blood group B positive (B+) were 35% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with blood group O-. Women with blood group AB+ were at 26% higher risk of type 2 diabetes, those with blood group A- were at 22% higher risk and those with blood group A+ were at 17% increased risk.

The team says their findings for blood groups O-, B- and AB- were not statistically significant.

Commenting on their results, Dr. Fagherazzi says:

"Our findings support a strong relationship between blood group and diabetes risk, with participants with the O blood type having a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Therefore, the effects of blood groups should be investigated in future clinical and epidemiological studies on diabetes. Further pathophysiological research is also needed to determine why the individuals with blood type O have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes."

However, the team suggests a number of potential factors that might explain their findings. For example, they point out that blood grouping is linked to specific molecules related to type 2 diabetes. Another study has associated blood type with gut bacteria composition, which may be linked to type 2 diabetes.

Study author Dr. Françoise Clavel-Chapelon - also of the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health at the Gustave Roussy Institute - acknowledges the fact that their study population only included women but notes that no biological mechanisms were identified that suggest their findings were sex-dependent.

"Information on the participants was self-reported, but this is unlikely to substantially affect the results," he adds.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tips to allergy sufferers for easy breathing this holiday season

The many smells and tastes of the holidays that get so many in a festive mood can sicken others, thanks to allergic reactions. But with some seasonal savvy, allergy sufferers can breathe easy this festive time of year.

"The dust from the boxes and on the decorations that have been packed away in dank basements or dusty attics is triggering reactions in my allergy and asthma patients," said Rachna Shah, MD, affiliate faculty member at Loyola Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and allergist at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital.

The holidays are supposed to be some of the happiest times of the year. But popular seasonal items, such as fresh trees, scented air fresheners and live plants make the holidays miserable for many.

Here are Dr. Shah's top five tips for easy breathing this holiday season:

1) Clean The Tree - Artificial or real, a tree can cause allergy problems. "A tree that is moldy increases the spore counts in the home exponentially after just a few days, triggering reactions and illness," says Dr. Shah. "Some have found relief by spraying down the tree with water to remove mold and then limiting the amount of time the tree is indoors to 12 days or less."

The clean fragrance from the live balsam, fir and pine trees is pleasing, but it can aggravate respiratory conditions. "No variety of live tree is less allergenic than any other," says Dr. Shah. "Artificial is the best if you have allergies." The scent of a freshly cut tree as well as elements of its care can wreak havoc on your airways and nasal passages. "The water in the tree holder also grows stagnant and collects mold, which is detrimental to those with allergies," Dr. Shah says. Decorations used to adorn the tree may also be dusty, scented or carry irritants. If you choose an artificial tree, make sure the branches, as well as decorations, are dry and moisture-free. "Artificial trees and holiday decorations can grow mold if they get wet, as they often do in humid basements or attics," she warns.

2) Prepare for Parties - Bring your own treats, especially for kids, at social gatherings where allergenic foods may be plentiful and an only option. "Those with egg, nut or dairy allergies especially can play it safe and enjoy the parties if they know what they are eating and drinking," says Dr. Shah. "Communicating in advance with the host can help avoid illness."

3) Pamper the Pet - Dogs and cats spend more time indoors during the winter months and often bring allergens in with them from their trips outdoors, contaminating the environment for those with sensitive respiratory systems. "Have your dog and cat groomed more often to remove dander and hair," says Shah. HEPA filters also help filter pet hair of all kinds as well.

4) Relax - "Anxiety has been shown to increase asthma symptoms," says Dr. Shah. "Use relaxation methods such as deep breathing, meditation or yoga to maintain control during the holiday hustle-bustle."

5) Never Use Scented Candles or Home Fragrance Oils - The popularity of home fragrance products and scented specialty candles reaches a peak during the holidays - and so do allergies. Unplug the electric scent distributors and take a pass on the potpourri simmering pots. "Far from creating an inviting home, the fragrance aggravates the sinuses and respiratory system so sufferers can't breathe," Dr. Shah said.

6) Avoid Real Poinsettias and Fresh Floral Arrangements - "The moist soil encourages the growth of mold. And if there is mold in your house, you are breathing mold spores," Dr. Shah said. This causes air passageways to swell, which restricts airflow. It can even cause skin rashes.

7) Keep the Humidity in Check - Warm and cool air humidifiers are up and running in many homes now that the cold, dry air is here. "Get a gauge and keep the humidity no higher than 48 to 50 percent," Dr. Shah said. "Too much humidity encourages the growth of mold, which triggers allergic reactions."

8) Store Holiday Decorations in Large Plastic Tubs - Save yourself some sneezes next year by purchasing large resealable plastic tubs to store decorations. Dust them occasionally during the year.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Link between low blood glucose, cardiovascular events revealed

Professors Kamlesh Khunti and Melanie Davies, scientists from the University of Leicester's Diabetes Research Centre, have confirmed an association between hypoglycaemia and an increased risk of cardiovascular events and mortality in insulin-treated patients with diabetes, which could lead to changes in the way some patients' treatment is managed.

As part of an international collaboration with scientists from Imperial College London, the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and Novo Nordisk A/S -- using data from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink database -- Professors Khunti and Davies demonstrated that, following hypoglycaemia, insulin-treated patients with diabetes had an ~60% higher risk of cardiovascular events, and were between 2-2.5 times more likely to die over the same period as patients who did not experience hypoglycaemia.

The research was supported by the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care East Midlands (NIHR CLAHRC EM), and the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit.

Kamlesh Khunti, Professor of Primary Care Diabetes & Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, who led the research, said: "This is one of the first studies to report the risk of cardiovascular events and mortality in people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The risks are very significant and we need to identify these patients early with a view to implementing strategies to reduce their risk of hypoglycaemia."

Patients with diabetes are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease due to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques in blood vessels; this is a major cause of early death in these patients. The results of the study show that hypoglycaemia, which occurs when a patient's blood glucose becomes dangerously low, can trigger potentially fatal cardiovascular events.

Melanie Davies, Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester and Honorary Consultant at Leicester's Hospitals, commented: "The data from this important and large piece of research confirms what we already know in people with type 2 diabetes and extends our knowledge in those with type 1 diabetes. It also confirms the significance of hypoglycaemia and the link with an increased risk of cardiovascular events, a risk that persists over a long time period. Going forward we need to focus on management strategies that help patients minimise their risk of having hypoglycaemic events."

The findings of this investigation are a stark reminder of the challenges facing patients with diabetes and could lead to changes in the management of insulin-treated patients, particularly those at high risk of cardiovascular events.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Multiple sclerosis: First evidence of a rogue protein

Scientists have previously known that rogue proteins cause brain damage in other diseases of the brain such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

In this study, scientists from the University of Surrey, University of Texas Medical Center and PrioCam Laboratories produced unique molecules, called antibodies, to fight against these rogue proteins. They discovered that these antibodies were able to recognise rogue proteins in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, as well as additional molecules associated with other neurodegenerative diseases.

The antibodies were then used to investigate whether rogue proteins existed in the brain tissue and spinal fluid of patients with multiple sclerosis. The scientists concluded that multiple sclerosis may be caused by a protein that permanently adopts a rogue state.

"Multiple sclerosis represents a substantial health burden, affecting the quality of life of many people," said Dr Mourad Tayebi from the University of Surrey.
"Our discovery proposes a new and alternative way to conduct research into multiple sclerosis, by, for the first time, identifying a clear link to other neurodegenerative diseases. The results are important in redefining the molecular and cellular make-up of these diseases, and provides an important milestone in the quest for a laboratory test and an effective cure."

Co-Senior author, Dr Monique David from the PrioCam, said, "Our research indicates that rogue proteins share a common structure and may share similar pathogenic mechanisms. This study consistently and reproducibly links the presence of abnormally shaped proteins to multiple sclerosis."