Clinical Research

A new paper claims that traditional Chinese herbal medicines might slow the progression of diabetes - by slowing the more vague condition referred to as "prediabetes."

Prediabetes is considered to mean elevated blood sugar levels without the rise in glucose levels of type 2 diabetes. Obviously such people are at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes and then also heart disease and stroke. According to such a classification, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that about 79 million American adults age 20 years or older could be considered prediabetic. 


UV-B radiation in sunlight is the most important factor for the production of vitamin D, and that is why some people suffer from low levels of vitamin D during the winter months.

Many foods contain vitamin D, though not all have enough to make food an adequate supply. Some studies have indicated that low vitamin D levels are related to cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure, along with other diseases such as diabetes mellitus, autoimmune diseases and even cancer.

Vitamin D deficiency leads to stiffening of the blood vessels


Type 2 diabetes, which is blamed for over three million deaths each year, is on the increase and various food pundits and politicians say they can cure it if people would just ban trans fats or sodas or whatever they happen to be against this year.

And then there is genetics. There are genetic variants that have been associated with it but why wouldn't they have been eliminated by natural selection? Obviously if they had some other value but it has been shown that genetic regions associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes were unlikely to have been beneficial to people at stages through human evolution.


Because caffeine is a mild diuretic, there is a common assumption that caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, also have this effect.

The problem is that a kernel of scientific knowledge can be misconstrued in news outlets. As we discussed on Thanksgiving, everything in a Thanksgiving dinner contains chemicals found by someone somewhere to be a carcinogen in rats and could therefore be banned if they did not occur naturally. 


It's well established that as people's waistlines increase, so does the chance for the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Scientists from Denmark have found that in mice, macrophages, a specific type of immune cell, invade the diabetic pancreatic tissue during the early stages of the disease then these inflammatory cells produce a large amount of pro-inflammatory proteins - cytokines - which directly contribute to the elimination of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, resulting in diabetes. 


A systematic review of 66 research papers focused on the treatment of skin ulcers suggests that most are so technically flawed that their results are unreliable, and even of those that aren't flawed only weak evidence that alternative treatments work better than standard compression therapy or special stockings. 


Cranky old people might think that mellow crooning is less damaging to the voice than beatboxing, with its harsh, high-energy percussive sounds.

Not so, according to a paper in the Journal of Voice.  Beatboxing may be harder on the ears, that is why Michael Bublé gets more downloads than Killa Kela, but it may actually be gentler on vocal cords, which are already injury-prone. His findings were published Dec. 23 online in the Journal of Voice.


Determining how proteins misfold to create the tissue-damaging structures that lead to type 2 diabetes is complicated. These amyloid fibrils are also implicated in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and in prion diseases like Creutzfeldt-Jacob and mad cow disease.   


A paper in the International Journal of Obesity has found that even weight loss can be discriminatory;  African-American women may need to eat less or exercise more than European-American women to lose the same amount of weight.

Some studies have suggested that women of color don't lose as much weight as white women even in response to the same behavioral interventions of calorie restriction or increased physical activity. 


Each year, someone writes a book scaring people about food and that gets covered in the New York Times and then a whole rash of junk science studies get produced affirming exactly what the book said. This has been  a tradition since the 1960s, when Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, a book of anecdotes and scary claims about how someone she heard of sprayed DDT in her cellar and died, surrounded by science jargon about carcinogens.