~ Diabetes II and Aspirin

The inexpensive and widely available over the counter salicylates such as aspirin have demonstrated a number of benefits over the last couple decades, beyond their well known functions as fever and pain reliever. Heart disease, thrombotic stroke, acute coronary syndrome, and some types of cancer all have been found to be aided in their prevention by aspirin. Researchers at Harvard Medical School's Joslin Diabetes Center and the University of California, San Diego have uncovered yet another ability of this wonder-drug, that of treating type-2 diabetes.

Research published in the August 31 2001 issue of the journal Science studied salicylates' effects on genetically obese mice and rats who are prone to developing diabetes. They found that the drug influenced a pathway of cells known as the IKK-beta pathway that inhibits the effect of insulin. Inhibiting IKK-beta threfore makes the body's own insulin more effective. Salicylates were able to reverse the elevation in blood sugar, insulin and fat levels in the mice and rats in this study. Diabetes is believed to occur when the body produces inadequate amounts of insulin, yet frequently insulin levels are higher than normal in diabetics because the cells become resistant to insulin, the hormone that converts glucose into energy.

Next, the researchers bred mice to have lower levels of the IKK-beta molecule, thought to be aspirin's target, and found that they were prevented from developing obesity and insulin resistance when fed a high fat diet that would normally induce this phenomenon. The authors state, "These findings implicate an inflammatory process in the pathogenesis of insulin resistance in obesity and type 2 diabetes and identify the IKKIB pathway as a target for insulin sensitization."

It has long been known that aspirin could lower blood sugar, but the six to eight gram daily doses necessary to accomplish this can have side effects. Harvard medical School associate professor of medicine and lead study author, Steve Shoelson, MD predicted, "If a drug could be developed with this capacity to lower blood sugar, but without high-dose aspirin's side effects, we could potentially have a potent new treatment for type 2 diabetes."


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