Does Processed Meat Increase the Risk of Diabetes?

Written by Bonnie Sanders Polin PhD

Leptin and Type 1 Diabetes
This week we start out with a headline that may bring good news some time in the future for those of us with type 1 diabetes. We read with interest that a human test for the treatment of diabetes with leptin was announced by Dr. Roger Unger, who has been researching diabetes at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. Leptin is a hormone that is linked to appetite, and in fact has been used to control weight. It is given with other medications to type 2 diabetics to control weight and blood glucose levels. People have thought that leptin might be of benefit for type 1 diabetes control, but Dr. Unger and his group was the first to show a relationship in animals. The author will use leptin delivered by an insulin pump after research that showed that diabetic mice thrived after this treatment. In their mouse studies, the mice were injected with just insulin, insulin and leptin, and only leptin. The found that the insulin and leptin and only leptin treatments lowered the fluctuation of blood glucose levels, as well as cholesterol levels, and the mice did not gain as much weight from fat as controls. The group asked to start human trials last year. Please remember that the road to our seeing this on the market is long and complicated. No one can estimate how this process will go, but we will continue to look for articles about the trials and bring them to you.

Read more about the study here.

Processed Meat Increases the Risk of Diabetes?
Our next two headlines come from the American Heart Association's annual meeting on cardiovascular disease, epidemiology, and prevention in San Francisco. For years we have been told to limit the amount of red meats in our diets, as well as processed products which use preservatives like sausages, cold cuts, bacon, etc. The talk given by Renata Micha, a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, examined 20 studies with over 1 million participants. Of these, over 23,000 had heart disease, almost 3,000 had had a stroke, and almost 11,000 had a history of diabetes. The researchers found that for every 50 grams of processed meat eaten (about 1.8 ounces), the risk of heart disease increased 42% and the risk of diabetes increased 19%. No overt association was found between eating meats and stroke; however, there were only 3 studies that looked at this association. The researchers looked at the nutritional data for both the processed and unprocessed meat and found that they had similar amounts of fats and cholesterol. The processed meats had 4 times the amount of salt and 2 times the amount of nitrate preservatives. The researchers suggested that more research is needed to understand the effects of processed and unprocessed red meat on cardiovascular health and diabetes. Experts who examined the studies suggested that even if it could be proved that eating unprocessed red meat did not up the risk of heart disease and diabetes, research has linked it to certain cancers.

Learn more about red meat and processed meat and the link to diabetes here.

Limit Soda to Decrease Risk of Diabetes?
In case you are not sure what to eat or drink, a paper was presented at the same meeting which cautions about drinking soda and the risk for heart disease and diabetes. This study was done at the University of California, San Francisco and was presented by the author Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo. The study used computer simulation of heart disease, which has been applied to cardiovascular risks such as obesity and sodium intake. The one major problem that the author confirmed is that the estimated risk may be underestimated because the rise would be highest among younger people and the research focused on adults. The authors suggest that modest consumption of soda is not the culprit; however, the amount of soda consumed has risen over the past decade while other drink consumption went down. The author shared that anything that lowers the amount of sugar-sweetened soda drunk may have a positive effect on heath, even a proposed tax because even one drink per day has an effect on health. The American Heart Association has suggested that the amount of high calorie soda consumed be limited. The daily suggested sugar intake from soda by the AHA is one can for men and slightly less for women. Just to set the record straight, a 20 ounce can of soda has 250 calories and can add 15 pounds to your body weight a year. A large gulp soda like from a fast food restaurant will add 450 calories. What does this mean in terms of heart disease and diabetes for the last decade? There were 150,000 more cases of diabetes and 14,000 more cases of heart disease related to sugary soda and drinks. The researchers noted 50,000 more life-years burdened with heart disease due to drinking these drinks. So think what you could lose if you just limited your sugary drinks and soda drinks. Now you know the facts about how to lose 15 pounds per year.

Get more details on this report here.