Research Roundup: Controlling Blood Glucose Levels Decreases Cancer Risk and More
Cancer cells, because of their high metabolism and rapid growth, use up a lot of energy, which is supplied in the body by glucose, or blood sugar. That is partly why obesity and type 2 diabetes is associated with increased risk of cancer. A new study focused on controlling blood sugar levels to decrease cancer risk. For that and more new research, read on.
Controlling Blood Sugar Significantly Decreases Cancer Risk
A study out of the University of Gothenberg found that good control of blood sugar is important for decreasing the risk of cancer in obesity and type 2 diabetes. Along with that, large, durable weight loss seems to offer protection against cancer, but add in good glucose control and the number of cancer cases dropped significantly. The study evaluated 393 people with type 2 diabetes who underwent bariatric surgery and compared them to 308 people with the same clinical characteristics — in other words, severe obesity and type 2 diabetes — who did not undergo bariatric surgery. In the group that had bariatric surgery, 68 people, or 17%, developed cancer in parallel with significant weight loss. But the control group had 74 (24%) emerging cancer cases. They followed the group for a median of 21 years. Overall, the risk of cancer was 37% lower in the surgery group.
But the biggest difference seen was cancer risk related to normal glucose control with no diabetes relapse over a 10-year period. In that patient group, the cancer rate was only 12 out of 102 (12%) compared to 75 of 335 (22%) in the group whose diabetes came back in the same period. The data demonstrated a 60% decrease in cancer risk when blood glucose levels were maintained over 10 years. They published their research in Diabetes Cure.
“What we see is that, among patients with type 2 diabetes, many cancer cases are preventable,” said Kajsa Sjoholm, associate professor of Molecular Medicine at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and first author of the study. “These results are an important contribution that enhances our understanding of the connection between glucose control and cancer prevention.”
Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Booster Appears to Protect Against Omicron Variant
Although much is still to be learned about the new Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, Pfizer and BioNTech offered up some good news from an initial laboratory study of their mRNA vaccine against the variant. Although the standard two-shot dose of the vaccine appeared to have a 25-fold drop in effectiveness against Omicron, the addition of a third booster shot increased the neutralizing antibody titers by 25-fold. In general, these higher antibody levels are associated with high efficacy against the original Wuhan wild-type virus and the variants.
10-Minute Run Boosts Brain Processing
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba (Japan) found that as little as 10 minutes of running at moderate intensity offers mental health benefits. They found that mood and cognitive functions improved, and that activation of bilateral prefrontal subregions tied to cognitive mood and function also increased. This goes along with a growing body of evidence that physical activity can improve mood, but most previous studies were performed with exercise bicycles. They leveraged the Stroop Color-Word Test and collected data on hemodynamic changes associated with brain activity. After running, the participants reported being in a better mood as well as having decreased response times to the Stroop Color-Word Test.
Four-Stranded DNA Associated with Rare Aging Disease
Cockayne Syndrome is a rare disease that, among many other symptoms, includes rapid aging. Researchers at the Imperial College London identified a special type of four-stranded DNA that appears to interact with a gene that causes Cockayne Syndrome. The research group observed a protein called Cockayne Syndrome B (CSB) that preferentially interacted with a specific type of G-quadruplex, which are knot-like structures that are formed from quadruple-helix DNA. The G-quadruplexes came about when distant parts of DNA interact. CSB proteins that function normally don’t cause disease, but mutations in the gene that produces CSB protein can result in the fatal premature aging disorder Cockayne Syndrome. The mutated CSB proteins no longer interact with the long-range G-quadruplexes, although the research team does not yet know why.
Using AI to Develop Models of Disease Progression During Aging
Investigators with the University at Buffalo used artificial intelligence to create a system that models the progression of chronic diseases as people age. The model leverages metabolic and cardiovascular biomarkers, such as cholesterol levels, body mass index (BMI), glucose and blood pressure, to calculate the patient’s health and disease risks across their lifespan. They believe the model would help assess long-term chronic drug therapies and help physicians monitor responses to treatment for diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which become more common with age. They examined seven metabolic biomarkers: BMI, waist-to-hip ratio, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose and glycohemoglobin. Cardiovascular biomarkers included blood pressure, pulse rate and homocysteine.
Viagra Associated with 69% Decreased Risk of Alzheimer’s
Researchers at Case Western Reserve, the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Indiana found that use of erectile dysfunction medication Viagra (sildenafil) was associated with a 69% lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. In an analysis of insurance claims data for 7.23 million people, use of Viagra was associated with a 69% reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Cheng and colleagues began by screening more than 1,600 drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that are used to treat other diseases. In particular, they focused on drugs that target beta-amyloid and tau, two proteins that accumulate abnormally in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. In addition, they performed laboratory tests on human brain cells that demonstrated sildenafil’s ability to affect tau.
The authors wrote, “We also found that sildenafil increases neurite growth and decreases phosphor-tau expression in neuron models derived from induced pluripotent stem cells from patients with AD, supporting mechanistically its potential beneficial effect in AD. The association between sildenafil use and decreased incidence of AD does not establish causality, which will require a randomized controlled trial.”