Regular breakfast may protect against diabetes in youngsters

Children who eat breakfast regularly, particularly a high fibre cereal breakfast, had lower risk for type 2 diabetes than those children who ate breakfast infrequently, according to new research

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The results came from research among 4,116 9–10 year old children attending 200 schools in London, Birmingham, and Leicester participating in the Child Heart and Health Study in England (CHASE), a study examining risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes in children.

Researchers took various body measurements of the study participants and their levels of insulin, glucose, and other blood markers of diabetes risk. All the participants reported how often they ate breakfast and 2,004 children also completed a 24-hour dietary recall questionnaire.

Seventy-four percent of the children reported that they ate breakfast every day, 11% and 9% reported that they ate breakfast most days and some days, respectively, whereas 6% reported that they rarely ate breakfast.

Children who ate breakfast every day had lower risk markers for type 2 diabetes (eg fasting insulin levels were lower) than those children who ate breakfast infrequently. In particular, the children who ate a high fibre, cereal-based breakfast had lower insulin resistance than children who ate other types of breakfast such as low fibre or toast-based breakfasts.

Studies of this type are often associated with confounding factors that can reduce the strength of the findings. However, in this study the association between eating breakfast and having a favorable type 2 diabetes risk profile remained after allowing for differences in socioeconomic status, physical activity levels, and amount of body fat.

Family GP, Dr Paul Stillman and advisor to the Breakfast Cereal Information Service (BCIS) commenting on the results said: “These findings are very encouraging and suggest the need to conduct further trials to see whether altering the breakfast habits of children can alter their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“This study suggests that if all the children in England who do not eat breakfast daily could be encouraged to do so, it might reduce population-wide fasting insulin levels by about 4%. Moreover, encouraging children to eat a high fibre breakfast, instead of a low fibre breakfast might reduce population-wide fasting insulin levels by 11%–12%. Persuading children to eat breakfast, particularly a high fibre breakfast cereal regularly, could contribute to reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Breakfast cereals are a nutritious and convenient choice for breakfast as they contain a range of micronutrients. Choosing a high fibre breakfast cereal may offer additional benefit to health with regard to type 2 diabetes risk profile.”

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Testosterone – is too much better than too little?

heart.jpgResearch findings released this week indicate that men should worry about low testosterone levels. It could be responsible for more than just mood swings and a low sex drive.

Low testosterone levels seem to be linked to a heightened risk of premature death from heart disease and all causes, suggests research published online in Heart journal.

This finding refutes previous research published on the subject, which had indicated that the hormone is a risk factor associated with cardiovascular disease.

The heart health of 930 men was tracked over 7 years, after each had been diagnosed with having coronary artery heart disease.

Low testosterone levels were fairly common in these men; one in four were also diagnosed as having clinically defined testosterone deficiency. This is known as hypogonadism and does not refer to men with declining levels of testosterone due to advancing age.

During the monitoring period almost twice as many men with low testosterone died as did those with normal levels. One in five (41) of those with low testosterone died, compared with one in eight (12%) of those with normal levels.

A clinically defined deficiency in testosterone was an independent risk factor for premature death from all causes and from heart disease, after taking account of other influential factors, such as age, other underlying health problems, smoking and weight

It was found that those men with a borderline- low level of testosterone were also at an increased risk of early death.

The authors have pointed out, while high doses of testosterone delivered by anabolic steroids are hazardous to the health, low rather than high testosterone levels are connected to a whole host of health problems, including obesity and insulin resistance – known risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.

The authors of the study, based at Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, have concluded that men with hypogonadism (also at increased risk of the abovementioned conditions) could benefit from testosterone replacement.

A response to this study has highlighted the need for further research into the impact of testosterone on the health of both men and women. The impact or connection of testosterone levels on heart disease has largely taken a backseat, with researchers focusing on the impact of the female hormone Oestrogen until recently.

High testosterone has been linked to a variety of heath issues in women – including increased risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

If you would like to read more about the impact of low and high testosterone levels you can take a look at the recently released research, links below.

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Vitamin D fights type 2 diabetes


Helskinki: Scientists have discovered that higher levels of vitamin D may offer protection against tyep 2, adult onset diabetes.

Several thousand people, aged 40 to 74, were monitored over a 22-year-period, during which time 412 developed the disease.

Results showed that those with higher levels of vitamin D had the lower risk of diabetes. In particular, men with the highest blood level of the vitamin were 72 per cent less likely to develop the disease.

It is thought that low levels of vitamin D affect the body’s ability to produce insulin.

Vitamin D is produced naturally in the body by sunlight and it is also found in certain foods such as oily fish.

Diabetes is a growing problem, particularly in ageing adults and those who are overweight, particularly with high levels of belly fat are most at risk.

Red wine pill may be cure for diabetes


San Francisco: Resveratrol, a substance found in red wine, may cure the symptoms of adult onset diabetes, according to the results of a new trial of a drug based on this ingredient.

The American company, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, says the trial demonstrates the drug is safe and cuts blood glucose levels, which are not controlled in diabetics, in results presented today at the 26th Annual JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. The findings could lead to a new drug to control Type 2 Diabetes which now affects millions and the number continues to grow.

The 28-day study of pills to deliver a control, 2.5 gram or five grams of what it called SRT501 each to roughly 30 patients with Type 2 Diabetes in India.

The drug is also being tested on 130 patients in a Phase 2 study in combination with metformin, a drug therapy for Type 2 Diabetes, and results are expected later this year. Any anti-ageing effects have yet to be established.

The drug targets an enzyme called SIRT1, from the sirtuin family of enzymes which control the ageing process. The new drug, SRT501 acts by increasing the activity of the mitochondria, the energy powerhouse of our cells, and lowering levels of glucose in the blood and improving insulin sensitivity.

Insulin improves scar trauma


London: The unsightly effects of scarring following surgery, trauma and burns could be reduced significantly by a new technique involving a single, precisely-timed insulin injection.

In a research breakthrough which potentially could benefit millions of people1 annually, the use of insulin2 to reduce levels of scar tissue is being developed by Dr Claire Linge, Group Leader in Cell Biology at the RAFT3 Research Institute, Northwood, Middlesex.

Preliminary clinical trials have produced very promising results and the technique, for which a patent is pending, will be progressing into full scale clinical trials during the coming year.

Dr Linge is taking forward her pioneering research in partnership with NHS Innovations East 4, the regional hub of the NHS National Innovation Centre. Currently, the hub is assisting Dr Linge with the patent application and negotiating with pharmaceutical companies to progress the research into large-scale trials. The patent process is being funded by RAFT.

Inspiration for this pioneering technique came from previous research conducted by Dr Linge into the effects of insulin on different cell types.

Dr Linge says: “In the past, I researched insulin’s ability to change the way certain types of cell behave. Following my move to RAFT, I developed an interest in the scarring process and recognised similarities between the cells of scar tissue and others that I had researched.

“I was struck by the possibility that insulin may possess properties which beneficially affect the development of scar tissue.”

Detailed investigation of this theory was successful and, with the support of RAFT, Dr Linge developed a treatment technique that was taken into preliminary clinical trials5 at Mount Vernon Hospital, Middlesex.

Dr Linge explains: “For an open wound to heal, the skin cells (fibroblasts) that are normally responsible for day-to-day maintenance become activated, producing proteins that fill in the tissue deficit. The function of these activated fibroblasts is absolutely essential for successful healing.

“Wounds, such as those caused by surgery or trauma, can often lead to unnecessarily severe scars, with a raised and red appearance. This excess scar tissue is formed by the prolonged presence (for more than a few days) of activated fibroblasts at the wound site.

“I have found that a single subcutaneous injection of a low dose of insulin along the margin of a wound restricts the presence of activated fibroblasts to the first few days. This prevents the build up of scar tissue in the first place and thereby results in paler, flatter scars.”

At present, there is no acknowledged treatment for scars. Techniques such as pressure bandages are used but their efficacy is not clinically proven.

The pioneering work of Dr Linge was recognised in December 2006 by a panel of eminent biotechnology experts and investment industrialists which awarded her the London Biotechnology Network 2006 BIO-Innovation Award6.

Dr Paul Seabright, Head of Business Development, NHS Innovations East, says: “We are delighted to support the work of Dr Linge, which potentially could benefit millions of people and make a major contribution to global healthcare.

“Dr Linge’s work is an inspirational example of the many hundreds of ideas that NHS staff come up with each year to further benefit patient care. As an NHS innovation hub, our role is to help staff develop and implement their innovative technologies and practices in order to improve the quality of service to NHS patients.”

1 In the UK alone, during 2004/05, the number of patients who underwent surgical procedures was over six million; 10,000 patients were treated for burns and 56,000 for open wounds caused by trauma.

2 Insulin has been used since the mid-20th century to treat diabetes. More recently, its other properties, including promoting the kind of cell growth that could increase the speed of wound healing, have become more apparent. Dr Linge has shown that a naturally occurring protein will inhibit the development of skin cells responsible for producing scar tissue. Following laboratory and clinical trials, insulin (and its pharmacological mimics) promises to provide a cost-effective, easy-to-use treatment that will reduce the severity of skin trauma, whether caused by accident or surgery, for millions of patients each year.

3 RAFT, The Restoration of Appearance and Function Trust. Registered Research Charity No. 299811.

4 NHS Innovations East is run by Health Enterprise East Ltd. and is the innovation hub for healthcare in the East of England, part of a national network of NHS innovation hubs and a regional network of innovations hubs, supporting public and private sector healthcare providers. It provides a broad range of professional intellectual property management services to the 40 NHS Trusts across the East of England (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk) to enable their employees from all disciplines to identify, evaluate and take forward innovations that can benefit their patients. Health Enterprise East Ltd. is funded by the Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry and East of England Development Agency.

5 Preliminary clinical trials involved women attending Mount Vernon Hospital’s plastic surgery service (at the time run by West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, but now managed by the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust), for bilateral breast reductions. The operation requires two incisions below each breast. The women who volunteered to participate in the trials were given injections of insulin around the site of one incision while the other incision was not treated, thereby acting as a control. Researchers were able to measure and compare the development of scar tissue on both incisions.

6 Dr Linge received the prestigious London Biotechnology Network’s 2006 BIO-Innovation Award for her pioneering work in using insulin to reduce skin scarring after surgery, trauma or burns. The award was presented by Malcolm Wicks, Minister for Science and Innovation, at the Genesis VI Biotechnology Conference in London. The judges, a panel of eminent biotech and investment industrialists, chose Dr Linge’s entry for its clarity and the progress made by an academic group in getting the technology into a phase 2 clinical trial.

Brain exposure to insulin may damage longevity, say US scientists

Los Angeles: Keeping a healthy weight may help people live longer by limiting brain exposure to insulin, say US scientists.

A study in mice found that reducing insulin signals inside brain cells increased lifespan.

In a report in the magazine Science, the researchers said a healthy lifestyle and weight reduce insulin levels in humans and may have the same effect.

Experts said, if proven, insulin would be just one of many factors, such as genes, that influence longevity.

Previous research in fruit flies and roundworms has suggested that reducing the activity of the hormone insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels, can increase lifespan.

The latest study looked at the effects of a protein, IRS2, which carries the insulin signal in the brain. Mice who had half the amount of the protein lived 18% longer than normal mice.

Despite being overweight and having high levels of insulin, the mice were more active as they aged, and their glucose metabolism resembled that of younger mice.

The researchers said the engineered mice were living longer because the diseases that kill them, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, were being postponed due to reduced insulin signalling in the brain, even though circulating levels of insulin were high.

They said, in the future, it may be possible to design drugs to reduce IRS2 activity to reproduce the same effect, although they would have to be specific to the brain.

Study leader Dr Morris White, an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, said the simplest way to encourage longevity was to limit insulin levels by exercising and eating a healthy diet.

He said: “Our findings put a mechanism behind what your mother told when you were growing up – eat a good diet and exercise, and it will keep you healthy.

“Diet, exercise and lower weight keep your peripheral tissues sensitive to insulin.

“That reduces the amount and duration of insulin secretion needed to keep your glucose under control when you eat.

“Therefore, the brain is exposed to less insulin.”

This is an interesting study as the work done on mice could suggest that insulin is playing a role in the ageing process

His team is now planning to look at possible links between IRS2 signalling and dementia, which research has shown is associated with obesity and high insulin levels.

Insulin spray improves memory in Alzheimer’s

New York: Memory loss in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can be reduced with a new nasal spray containing the hormone insulin.

Tests on US patients with the spray showed that insulin which is absorbed into the bloodstream acted as a memory booster.

Insulin is also injected by diabetes to normalise their blood suger levels and scientists now believe that diabetes and Alzheimer’s may be linked.

Currrently there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, a distressing disease in which the brain’s message centre is disrupted by the build up of plaques causing memory loss. Increasing numbers of people are suffering worldwide.

The spray has been developed by US firm Kurze Technology which carried out tests on 24 Alzheimer’s patients. Half were given the spray and half a placebo over a period of six months.

Those on the hormone saw a 20 per cent improvement during memory tests whilst the other had no improvement.

Gut bug clue to life-threatening diseases

London: Altering the makeup of bugs in the gut could be a way of tackling insulin resistance and related problems such as non alcoholic fatty liver disease, according to new research published this week.

The study also has implications for the treatment of associated conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

The research shows that the type of microbes found in the guts of mice with a certain genetic makeup causes them to be pre-disposed to insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). On a high fat diet, these microbes transform the nutrient choline, found in food and essential for metabolising fat, into methylamines.

Scientists believe that these methylamines, which can only be produced by the microbes in the gut, lead to insulin resistance. In addition, because choline is needed to transport fat out of the liver, altering choline metabolism leads to fat accumulating in the liver and NAFLD.

The researchers are hopeful that their results in mice mean that they could intervene to change the makeup of gut microbes in people, to prevent their microbes from changing choline into methylamine. This would greatly reduce a person’s chances of becoming insulin resistant, developing NAFLD or suffering from associated problems.

The research is published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by researchers from Imperial College London and the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford.

Professor Jeremy Nicholson, senior author of the paper from Imperial College London, said: “It has been known for some time that a person’s genetic makeup can make them pre-disposed to insulin resistance and associated conditions. Finding out how this pre-disposition is linked to microbes in the gut offers us the prospect of tackling major health problems in people by intervening to change the makeup of these microbes. This is much more feasible than altering a person’s genetic makeup.”

The researchers measured the plasma and urine of two genetic strains of mice using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and computer modelling. One strain had a genetic predisposition to insulin resistance and NAFLD whilst the other strain did not.

The authors conclude their study provides more evidence that complex metabolic diseases are the product of the human and bacterial genomes as well as diet and lifestyle.


For further information please contact:

Laura Gallagher
Press Officer
Communications Division
Imperial College London
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6702

Notes to editors:

1. “Metabolic profiling reveals a contribution of gut microbiota to fatty liver phenotype in insulin-resistant mice” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 15 2006

Marc-Emmanuel Dumas(1)*, Richard H Barton(1), Ayo Toye(3), Olivier Cloarec(1), Christine Blancher(3), Alice Rothwell(3), Jane Fearnside(3), Roger Tatoud(2), Veronique Blanc(2), John C Lindon(1), Elaine Holmes(1), Mark I McCarthy(3), James Scott(2), Dominique Gaugier(3), Jeremy K Nicholson(1)(2)*

(1) Department of Biological Chemistry, Imperial College London
(2) Genetics and Genomics Research Institute, Imperial College London
(3) Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford
* Corresponding authors

2. About non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
NAFLD is a fatty inflammation of the liver related to insulin resistance that in its most extreme form can cause cirrhosis. There is currently no standard treatment for the disease and patients are usually encouraged to try weight loss or insulin sensitisers to reduce its effects. It is estimated to affect between 10-27% of the world’s population.

3.About Imperial College London
Consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions, Imperial College London is a world leading science-based university whose reputation for excellence in teaching and research attracts students (11,000) and staff (6,000) of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions that enhance the quality of life and the environment – underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture. Website:

4.Imperial College London, in conjunction with Queen Mary and Westfield College London, Cambridge University and Oxford University was awarded a £5.4 million collaborative program grant funded by the Wellcome Trust Functional Genomics Development Initiative in 2002. The programme designated a Biological Atlas of Insulin Resistance has been implemented by international investigators with expertise in insulin signalling, rodent genetics, human genetics, emergent ‘-omics’ sciences (metabonomics, proteomics, transcriptomics), bioinformatics, and structural biology.