Two items caught my eye in the October 2013 issue of Diabetes forecast. The first is a study reported in JAMA Pediatrics online published 2013. It reports a small German Study of 148 babies who had respiratory infections during the first year of life increases the child’s risk of being diagnosed with Type 1 by age 3. The Diabetes Forecast article may be viewed at:
The study is remarkable because it links incidence of respiratory infection with Type 1. This is not a causal finding, it is however an associative finding. That is that the two items are associated. It is also reports that “environment and genes play roles in the development of Type 1” ("Breathing Lessons," 2013). What caught my interest was that particular statement. I do not know, nor do scientists, which environmental factors affect the onset of Type 1. One other issue about this article is that it does not say having a respiratory infection prior to age 1 is associated with having Type 1 later than age 3. It would be dangerous to make the immediate jump, as I did, that I must have had a respiratory infection prior to age 1, given I was diagnosed with Type 1 at age 17. This study just does not support that association.
What it does say and what really tripped my interest was the association between Type 1 and respiratory infections. Such an association supports my long held belief (not based on scientific fact) that some kind of virus may act like a trigger for the onset of Type 1. I cannot remember having a cold or the flu before I was diagnosed with Type 1. But I do believe there has to be a trigger that sets off the autoimmune system to attack the islets. Of course that is no more than my opinion.
Suppose a virus does trigger Type 1 and suppose it is a common virus that most everyone gets, but that, in certain genetically predisposed people sets off the autoimmune system? That offers hope that someday (likely many years from now) a vaccine might be used to prevent that spread of that virus. It is an intriguing thought, and yes it is not yet supported by science, but suppose it is true? We might see an end to Type 1 diabetes, not because those of us who have it somehow are magically cured, but because it could be universally prevented. I don’t know how the Type 1 community feels about this, but I know that I would take it. Keeping my great grandchildren safe would be worth me having this disease. Again that is just me, but I have never believed I would be cured. My dream has been that it could end with me. After all, I for one am willing to take that bullet. If only I could feel like I did.
The second article that caught my attention was published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) online in their July 30, 2013 edition. The lead in Diabetes Forecast is that “dangerously low blood glucose levels may spell heart trouble for people with Type 2 diabetes” ("Hypos and the heart," 2013). It is a mata-analysis that reviewed previously published research in six different large scale studies. Again this is not definitive research but it does tell researchers that there may be something here.
In the end the mata-analysis reviewed six studies that involved “more than 903,000 people with Type 2 diabetes” ("Hypos and the heart," 2013). The researchers discovered that “severe hypoglycemia was strongly associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke” ("Hypos and the heart," 2013). The researchers looked at this population for a period of five years following severe lows ("Hypos and the heart," 2013). If you would like to read the diabetes forecast article it is published at:
What caught my eye is that for years endocrinologists have mostly held that low blood glucose has no long lasting effects on the body. It is true this is a Type 2 study, but it ought to provide some caution for the Type 2 user of insulin and other insulin stimulating drugs. Now I am not saying that insulin is dangerous for Type 2’s, in fact there was no suggestion of that. But it does give us a glimpse into what severe lows might do to the body. The other thing is that this is a mata-analysis that means the researchers looked at many different studies conducted over a period of time. A well-executed mata-analysis makes this study more powerful.
To me at least the possible link is fascinating. It may explain a lot about heart disease and diabetes. Or of course it might just be another false lead.
Breathing Lessons. (2013, October). Diabetes Forecast, 66.
Hypos and the heart. (2013, October). Diabetes Forecast, 66.