Diabetes Watch

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Cancer and Diabetes a Disheartening Combination

Patients with cancer who also have diabetes are often treated less aggressively and have a poor overall outlook, compared with patients without diabetes, according to the results of a study reported in the May 2007 issue of the International Journal of Cancer. For the study, Dutch researchers examined the frequency of diabetes among patients newly diagnosed with cancer, along with the influence of diabetes on cancer stage at diagnosis, treatment, and survival rate.

The researchers found that 9% of patients with cancer had diabetes at diagnosis. Patients with diabetes were more often diagnosed with advanced tumors, compared with non-diabetic patients; and they were treated with less chemotherapy and radiation, compared with patients without diabetes. Overall, 3902 of the 5555 (~70%) cancer patients with diabetes and 29,909 of 52,943 (~57%) cancer patients without diabetes died during follow-up.

Type 2 Diabetes Dramatically Raises Kids' Hospital Rates

Researchers at the New York University School of Medicine reported an alarmingly high rise in the number of children hospitalized for type 2 diabetes between 1997 and 2003.

For the study, the researchers used data from nationwide hospital discharge records from 1997, 2000, and 2003. They compared the trends in hospitalization frequency, length of stay, and costs for children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The results indicated that the rates of hospitalization for type 1 diabetes rose by 15% during the study period, while the rates of hospitalizations for type 2 diabetes increased by 200%.

"The rapid rise in childhood obesity is now common knowledge," said David Katz, MD, director of Yale University School of Medicine's Prevention Research Center, who was not involved in the study. "Increasingly, so is the concurrent rise in type 2 diabetes in children - a generation ago, this condition did not exist. What is now called type 2 diabetes was called adult-onset diabetes until quite recently."

Diabetes May Impact Men's Fertility

In one of the first studies to compare the DNA in sperm from patients with diabetes and without, British researchers found that diabetes may be damaging to sperm, according to study results reported recently in Human Reproduction.

The participants, 27 men with type 1 diabetes, with an average age of 34, and 29 nondiabetic men of similar age, were recruited from a center for endocrinology in Belfast among men who had wanted their fertility tested. Because the patients without diabetes were seeking fertility treatment, the researchers reported that they might also have more damaged sperm, compared with the average man. The researchers noted that more research was needed to understand how diabetes damages sperm and its implications.

Insulin Does Not Impede Mental Skills

Patients with diabetes who experience hypoglycemia or low blood sugar do not have to worry about long-term declines in cognitive function. The study followed patients with type 1 diabetes for an average of 18 years. They compared the mental skills of 588 participants who received intensive treatment with 556 getting conventional care.

Reporting in the May 3, 2007, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers found that the participants in the intensive care group were 3 times more prone to have had episodes of coma or seizures caused by low blood sugar. The researchers said that the findings should reassure patients with diabetes, who do better if their blood sugar is carefully kept in check.

Eat More Cereal Fibers to Thwart Type 2 Diabetes

Individuals who eat a diet rich in fiber from cereals and in magnesium may stave off type 2 diabetes. The study involved >9700 men and 15,365 women aged 35 to 65 years old, who answered a food questionnaire and were then followed for an average of 7 years.

The researchers at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Postdam-Rehbruecke also conducted a review of previous studies about the association between fiber or magnesium intake and the risk of diabetes. The patients were divided into 5 groups based on their intake of fiber from cereals. The findings indicated that the patients who consumed the most had a 27% lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes, compared with those who ate the least.

In terms of magnesium, the study showed that patients who consumed the most magnesium faced a 23% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, compared with those who consumed the least. (The findings were reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine, May 14, 2007.)

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