Researchers may have found another way to gauge your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a disease that can, with lifestyle changes, be prevented… if you’ve got enough time to change your ways. But although some individuals who display several of the risk factors – obesity, high blood pressure, unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle – may go on not to develop the disease, others who may only display one or two risk factors do sometimes go on to get diabetes. Now researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, US, think they may have found another way to ascertain risk of type 2 diabetes.
Researchers there have pinpointed five amino acids that occur at specific levels in people who are at increased risk of the disease. While risk factors are useful, this information – the amino acid levels – would allow doctors to ascertain who is most likely to develop the disease, even where risk factors remain the same. And the big advantage with this test is that it could predict the likelihood of diabetes for up to a decade into the future – so an individual would have time to dramatically alter their lifestyle in order to potentially prevent the disease.
The signs of risk come in the form of metabolites, small molecules that are produced during the metabolic process (chemical processes in the body such as through respiration, or digestion, for example). The metabolites in question here are amino acids, specifically isoleucine, leucine, valine, tyrosine and phenylalanine. Because diabetes is the result of the body’s inability to metabolise glucose, levels of these amino acids can indicate whether glucose regulation is likely to be adversely affected.
When the researchers looked at the amino acid levels of diabetes patients they found that among people who had the same risk factors for diabetes, those with highest levels of three of these amino acids were four or five times more likely to develop diabetes than those with the lowest levels. Further research is needed to ascertain how the test can be used and exactly how effective it is.