Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Diabetes is associated with conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, blurred vision, cholesterol, diabetic neuropathy, and kidney failure. It is a well-known fact that diabetes increases the risk of kidney disease. A new study suggests that the opposite is also true – that kidney dysfunction increases the risk of diabetes mellitus. The study was conducted in collaboration with the Veterans Affairs St. Louis Health Care System and the results were published in the journal Kidney International.
Researchers from the Washington University of St. Louis found that high levels of urea raise the risk of diabetes by increasing insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion. Urea is the nitrogen- containing waste product in blood which comes from the breakdown of protein in foods. As part of the study, researchers examined medical records in national VA databases to analyze the relationship between kidney disease and diabetes. They analyzed data of 1.3 million adults without diabetes over a period of five years, beginning in 2003. The key results of the study are as follows:
- A common blood test which measured the amount of urea nitrogen in the blood showed that 117,000 or nine percent of those without diabetes had high urea levels, indicating poor kidney function.
- Overall, those with high urea levels had a 23 percent higher risk of diabetes.
- In each year studied, new cases of diabetes were found in 2,989 of every 100,000 people with low urea levels and 3,677 new cases of diabetes in those with high urea levels.
- For every 100,000 people, there would be 688 more cases of diabetes each year in those with higher urea levels.
The findings of the study indicate the need to reduce the urea levels in order to lower the risks associated with kidney disease and diabetes. Medication along with the correct diet (for example, eating less protein) allows for improved treatment and possible prevention of diabetes.
As per National Statistics report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 30.3 million people in the United States have diabetes. Wrong dietary habits and lack of adequate physical activity can lead to obesity, a major risk factor for diabetes. Enrolling in a reliable weight loss program can help. Adopting lifestyle changes that give equal importance to regular physical activity and a healthy and balanced diet can help prevent diabetes and associated health risks.