Study Reveals Prevalence of Condition That Causes Type 2 Diabetes, High Blood Pressure

These lumps can relate to the overproduction of hormones, including the stress steroid hormone cortisol, which can lead to T2D and high blood pressure.

Changes are needed for health care policy following research that shows the impact of a condition associated with benign tumors that can lead to type 2 diabetes (T2D) and high blood pressure, according to scientists at the University of Birmingham.

Approximately 10% of adults have a benign tumor or lump, known as an adrenal incidentaloma, in the glands situated on top of the kidneys that produce a variety of hormones. These lumps can relate to the overproduction of hormones, including the stress steroid hormone cortisol, which can lead to T2D and high blood pressure. Previous studies suggest that 1 in 3 adrenal incidentalomas produce excess cortisol, or a condition called mild autonomous cortisol secretion (MACS).

An international research team based out of the University of Birmingham in the UK conducted a prospective study of more than 1305 patients with adrenal incidentalomas to assess their risk of high blood pressure and T2D and their cortisol production, comparing patients with and without MACS. This study is the first to look at a detailed analysis of steroid hormone production in patients by analyzing cortisol and related hormones by mass spectrometry in 24-hour urine samples, according to the authors.

The findings show that MACS is much more prevalent than previously reported, with almost every second patient in the study with an adrenal incidentaloma having MACS. Additionally, 70% of patients with MACS were women and most were postmenopausal age.

“Previous studies suggested that MACS is associated with poor health. However, our study is the largest ever study to establish conclusively the extent of the risk and severity of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes in patients with MACS,” said senior author professor Wiebke Arlt, in a press release. “Our hope is that this research will put a spotlight on this condition and increase awareness of its impact on health. We advocate that all patients who are found to carry an adrenal incidentaloma are tested for MACS and have their blood pressure and glucose levels measured regularly.”

REFERENCE

Researchers reveal scale of prevalence of a condition that can cause type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. University of Birmingham. January 3, 2022. Accessed January 4, 2022. https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/news/latest/2022/01/adrenal-tumours-blood-pressure-diabetes.aspx