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People who walk a lot have lower diabetes risk: study

People who walk a lot have lower diabetes risk: study

June 29 (Reuters) - Among people at high risk for diabetes who get very little exercise, those who manage to walk more throughout the day are less likely to actually develop the blood sugar disorder, according to a U.S. study.

Earlier studies have shown that walking more is tied to a lower risk of diabetes, but few studies have looked into precise measures of how many steps people take each day, said Amanda Fretts, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle.

"Our finding wasn't surprising given that other studies have shown that even light activity is associated with a lower risk of diabetes," Fretts wrote in an email to Reuters Health.

To get a better sense of the potential benefits of walking, Fretts and her colleagues asked more than 1,800 people to wear a pedometer for a week to tally the number of steps they typically took each day.

All of them came from native American communities in Arizona, Oklahoma and North and South Dakota that are known to have low physical activity levels and high rates of diabetes.

About a quarter of the group were considered to have very low activity, taking fewer than 3,500 steps a day, while half took fewer than 7,800 steps a day. One mile is around 2,000 steps and daily walking recommendations typically point to a minimum of 10,000 steps a day.

At the beginning of the study, none of the participants had diabetes. But after five years of follow-up, 243 people had the condition.

About 17 percent of the people in the lowest activity group developed diabetes, compared to 12 percent of the people who took more than 3,500 steps a day.

After taking into account people's age, whether they smoked and other diabetes risk factors, Fretts's steam determined that people who walked the most were 29 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who walked the least.

The findings don't prove that walking more is responsible for the lower diabetes risk, but Fretts offered some possible explanations for how walking might help.

"Increased physical activity may prevent weight gain and promote weight loss, a major determinant of diabetes risk," she said.

Physical activity also has effects on inflammation, glucose and other molecules in the body that could help lower diabetes risk. But she added that the potential benefits of moderate levels of walking are "only for those who are really inactive to begin with."

Diabetes Reversed in Mice Using Stem Cells

Diabetes Reversed in Mice Using Stem Cells


The research by Timothy Kieffer, a professor in the Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences, and scientists from the New Jersey-based BetaLogics, a division of Janssen Research & Development, LLC, is the first to show that human stem cell transplants can successfully restore insulin production and reverse diabetes in mice. Crucially, they re-created the "feedback loop" that enables insulin levels to automatically rise or fall based on blood glucose levels. The study is published online June 27 in the journal Diabetes.

After the stem cell transplant, the diabetic mice were weaned off insulin, a procedure designed to mimic human clinical conditions. Three to four months later, the mice were able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels even when being fed large quantities of sugar. Transplanted cells removed from the mice after several months had all the markings of normal insulin-producing pancreatic cells.

"We are very excited by these findings, but additional research is needed before this approach can be tested clinically in humans," says Kieffer, a member of UBC's Life Sciences Institute. "The studies were performed in diabetic mice that lacked a properly functioning immune system that would otherwise have rejected the cells. We now need to identify a suitable way of protecting the cells from immune attack so that the transplant can ultimately be performed in the absence of any immunosuppression."

The research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Stem Cell Network of Canada, Stem Cell Technologies of Vancouver, the JDRF and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

Diabetes results from insufficient production of insulin by the pancreas. Insulin enables glucose to be stored by the body's muscle, fat and liver and used as fuel; a shortage of insulin leads to high blood sugar that raises the risk of blindness, heart attack, stroke, nerve damage and kidney failure.

Regular injections of insulin are the most common treatment for the type 1 form of this disease, which often strikes young children. Although experimental transplants of healthy pancreatic cells from human donors have shown to be effective, that treatment is severely limited by the availability of donors.

Secondhand smoke linked to type 2 diabetes

Secondhand smoke linked to type 2 diabetes

HOUSTON, June 26 (UPI) -- Adults exposed to secondhand smoke have higher rates type 2 diabetes than non-smokers not exposed to smoke, U.S. researchers say.

Study co-author Dr. Theodore C. Friedman of Charles R. Drew University, Los Angeles, and colleagues used serum cotinine levels -- measures of exposure to tobacco smoke -- to verify passive smoking.

The researchers examined data from more than 6,300 adults who participated from 2001 to 2006 in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population.

Smokers, who made up 25 percent of the sample, were defined for the study as having a serum cotinine level greater than 3 nanograms per milliliter. Non-smokers, 41 percent of the sample, were those who answered "no" to the question "Do you smoke cigarettes?" and who had a cotinine level below 0.05 ng/mL.

Participants who answered "no" to the question of smoking, but whose cotinine level was above 0.05 ng/mL were defined as secondhand "smokers," or 34 percent.

After factoring for age, sex, race, alcohol consumption and physical activity, the researchers found secondhand smokers, when compared with non-smokers, had a higher measure of insulin resistance, a condition that can lead to type 2 diabetes. They also had higher levels of fasting blood sugar and a higher hemoglobin A1c, a measure of blood sugar control.

"This finding also showed that the association between secondhand smoke and type 2 diabetes was not due to obesity," Friedman said in a statement.

The findings were presented at The Endocrine Society's 94th annual meeting in Houston.

Foot Problems Pervasive in the U.S., Linked to Obesity, Sedentary Lives and Diabetes, Says New IPFH/NPD Study

Foot Problems Pervasive in the U.S., Linked to Obesity, Sedentary Lives and Diabetes, Says New IPFH/NPD Study

STATESVILLE, N.C., Jun 26, 2012 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- A staggering 78% of U.S. adults age 21+ report they have had one or more problems with their feet at some time in their lives, according to The National Foot Health Assessment 2012, a survey conducted for the Institute for Preventive Foot Health (IPFH) by The NPD Group. The most common foot maladies, plaguing both men and women, were ankle sprains (reported by roughly one in three respondents), followed by blisters, calluses, foot fatigue, cracked skin and athlete's foot.

The study revealed discouraging news for those affected by the American obesity epidemic. Foot health is negatively related to body mass index (BMI), creating a conundrum for overweight adults attempting to become more active and healthy. The "very overweight" (BMI 30.0+) were 51% more likely to rate their foot health as fair/poor and more likely to currently be experiencing a foot issue (41%) or a high level (7-10 on a scale of 10) of foot pain (16%). Additionally, 32% of these adults were less active in fitness/sports activities than respondents who were not very overweight.

"People should be taking care of their feet and can do so relatively easily by keeping them comfortable, dry and free of friction," says IPFH Executive Director Robert (Bob) Thompson, CPed . "We advocate that consumers follow an 'integrated approach' to help prevent injury to the skin/soft tissue(s) of the foot. The approach involves first selecting a padded sock to be worn with new shoes and any inserts or orthotics prescribed or recommended by a doctor or foot health professional. Fitting footwear this way helps ensure that feet don't slip and slide in the shoe and toes aren't pinched together, a precursor to lesions. Yet, we found that only 18% of adults report having had their feet measured with a Brannock device, the best way to get accurate sizing. In addition, only 7% reported having their walking gait analyzed. Gait analysis is important in identifying physical and biomechanical issues that can develop into longer term problems."

Further, people with feet at risk are not getting the help they need to prevent potentially serious consequences from a foot issue. Fewer than half (46%) of people with diabetes reported seeing a doctor for regular foot screenings. Only 20% had even been told that they were at risk for foot-related complications, and only 11% said they had their feet properly measured and fitted every time they bought new shoes.

The implications of the findings for those with poor foot health are especially serious. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011), more than 60% of non-traumatic lower limb amputations occur in people with diabetes. In 2009, about 68,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed in people with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2007 (latest available data), the treatment of diabetes and its complications in the U.S. generated at least $116 billion in direct costs; at least one third of those costs were linked to the treatment of foot ulcers.

"People with diabetes or any other medical condition that compromises blood flow to the lower extremities are at heightened risk for foot ulcers and foot amputations," warned IPFH Scientific Advisory Board Member Terrence P. Sheehan, MD. "These data are alarming and highlight the need for foot health awareness among all health care professionals. Getting people to take care of their feet can be a first step toward getting them moving and on the road to better overall health."

Study respondents admitted that their productivity on the job suffers when they have foot issues. Roughly half (52%) of adults report experiencing sore feet (frequently/occasionally) after working all day and another 44% admit it has a negative impact on their productivity.

Other key findings include the following:


          --  Among individuals currently experiencing foot issues, 59% reported

              having seen a specialist for their foot condition.

          --  More than half of adults (58%) report thinning fat pads with the

              majority (83%) unaware that the fat pad wears away with age.

          --  Running/jogging, hiking, basketball, fitness walking and dancing are the

              top five activities producing sore, achy feet and/or blisters as a

              result of participating in the activity.

          --  Even leisure activities such as shopping produced sore feet in nearly

              half of adults (46%). Of these, over half (55%) said it occasionally

              impacted their enjoyment of their leisure activities.

          --  Individuals over age 50 who are currently experiencing foot issues are

              significantly more likely than their younger counterparts to visit a

              physician for foot issues. They are also more likely than 21-34 year

              olds to have foot issues or foot pain and to say their foot conditions

              affect their walking and quality of life.

          --  Women seem to have more foot ailments than men and are significantly

              more likely than men to report having calluses, foot fatigue, cracked

              skin, ingrown toenails, blisters, swelling, plantar fasciitis and corns.