Pancreas fat loss 'reverses' Type 2 diabetes

07 December 2015 07:46

Blood sugar tests are used to diagnose diabetes

Blood sugar tests are used to diagnose diabetes

Losing fat from the pancreas may reverse the effects of Type 2 diabetes, according to experts at Newcastle University.

The researchers found increased levels of fat in the pancreas to be a cause of the disease, which is becoming increasingly common.

They claim losing less than one gram of fat from the pancreas is enough to counter the long-term condition.

Insulin levels

Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity, while it is usually diagnosed in older people.

It occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin to function properly, or the cells in the body do not react to insulin. Glucose consequently remains in the blood, so it is not used as fuel for energy.

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Calorie restriction

The researchers claim excess fat in the pancreas prevents insulin being made as normal. But when that excess fat is removed, insulin secretion increases to normal levels.

A total of 18 people who had Type 2 diabetes and nine who did not were involved in the study. Each of them was tested for weight, fat in the pancreas and insulin response before they had gastric band surgery. The tests were repeated eight weeks after.

Diabetics were found to have originally had increased levels of fat in the pancreas, while both groups lost about 13% of their initial body weight.

The level of fat in the pancreas did not change in non-diabetics, yet it decreased to a normal level in those with Type 2 diabetes.

Professor Roy Taylor says excess fat in the diabetic pancreas is specific to Type 2 diabetes and is important in preventing insulin being made as normal.

He claims losing weight allows people with Type 2 diabetes to drain excess fat out of the pancreas and allows functions to return to normal. Calorie restriction, whether by diet or an operation, is the only way to do this at present.

Diabetes Care published the findings.

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