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Deaths Halt Diabetes Study

diabetes, insulin, blood sugar, sugar, leptin, obesity, actos, avandia, deathThe U.S. government abruptly halted aggressive treatment in a major study of diabetes and heart disease after a surprising number of deaths occurred among patients who pushed their blood sugar to very low levels.

The 10,000-patient ACCORD was designed to investigate whether lowering blood sugar levels to below the current recommended target would help protect patients at high-risk of heart attack.

However, the study was halted 18 months early, following 257 deaths among aggressively treated patients, compared to only 203 among diabetics given more standard care. Although aggressively treated patients were actually less likely to suffer heart attacks, any heart attacks they did suffer were more likely to be fatal.

A close look at the multiple medications patients used, including the drug Avandia that is suspected of being a heart risk, showed no sign that any were to blame.

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

One concept that I strive to make well-known, which has the potential to save hundreds of thousands and even millions of lives, is that diabetes is not a disease of blood sugar.

Rather, it is a disease of insulin – of insulin resistance -- and perhaps more importantly, of faulty leptin signaling.

Until that concept becomes well-known in both the medical community and by the public at large, this misconception will continue to be promoted in studies such as the one above, revealing the inadequacy of current conventional medical treatment for chronic diseases such as diabetes, and their erroneous advice about nutrition.

Typically, conventional treatment is focused on fixing a symptom, in this case elevated blood sugar, rather than the underlying disease. Symptoms are generally the way that nature has taught our bodies to deal with a disease – the real underlying biological or physiological problem.

Similarly, treatments that concentrate merely on lowering blood sugar for diabetes while raising insulin levels, can actually worsen rather than remedy the actual problem of metabolic miscommunication. It just trades one evil for another.

Why the Result of This Study is NOT Surprising

Since most treatments for type 2 diabetes utilize drugs that either raise insulin or lower blood sugar, the tragic result is that the typical, conventional medical treatment for diabetes contributes to the side effects and the shortened lifespan that diabetics experience.

This is what happened in this study as well. Their press release states:

“Most participants in the intensive treatment group achieved their lower blood sugar goals with combinations of Food and Drug Administration-approved diabetes medications. For both the intensive and standard treatment groups, study clinicians could use all major classes of diabetes medications available: metformin, thiazolidinediones (TZDs, primarily rosiglitazone), insulins, sulfonylureas, exanatide, and acarbose.”

Now, why don’t drugs like Actos and Avandia work? Actually, let me rephrase: why do they work so well at lowering blood sugar, yet lead to dramatically reduced health? 

It’s because these drugs are what is called “PPAR-gamma agonists.” That means they activate PPAR-gamma receptors, which induces a particular response. PPAR-gamma is a nuclear receptor designed to multiply fat cells. So, the way these drugs work to lower your blood sugar is by multiplying your fat cells at a faster rate – hence making you gain weight at a more rapid pace. 

Have you ever had too much junk in your garage and decided to rent a storage space rather than get rid of the excess?  

That’s what you’re doing when you take these drugs. You’re consuming too much sugar – which turns into fat, and needs to be stored somewhere -- but instead of reducing your consumption, you’re simply adding storage space.  

Sooner or later, those fat cells become resistant to insulin as well, and you’re back to where you started – your sugars start rising again because your body has once again run out of storage space. The conventional answer is to increase your dosages, and voila! – you’re well on your way to even more serious health problems, courtesy of your excess weight and continued metabolic malfunction.

Do You REALLY Know What Insulin Does?

Contrary to what you may have been told, insulin's main role is not to “control” blood sugar.

When blood sugar becomes elevated it is a signal for insulin to be released to direct the extra energy into storage. A small amount is stored as a starch called glycogen in our body, but the majority is stored as your main energy supply -- fat. Thus, in this regard insulin's major role is not to lower sugar, but to take the extra energy and store it for future times of need.

Insulin lowers glucose as a side effect of directing the extra energy into storage.

But, Wait… Insulin is Not the MOST Important Player in Diabetes

That honor actually goes to leptin, because the hormone leptin is largely responsible for the accuracy of insulin signaling, and whether you become insulin resistant or not.

Leptin is produced by fat, and tells your body:

  • how much energy it has; whether it needs more (signaling you to "be hungry")
  • whether it should get rid of some (saying “stop being hungry”)
  • and most importantly, what to do with the energy already there (reproduce cells or focus on cellular repair)

There is compelling research indicating that the two most important organs that determine whether you become diabetic or not are your liver and your brain. And, it is their ability to listen to leptin that will determine this.

So, how do you make sure your brain and liver can hear the signals emanating from your leptin hormone, and don’t start to tune them out?

If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try Reading the Directions

This fast age seem more concerned about speed than direction, with devastating results. By some estimates, diabetes has increased more than 700 percent in the last 50 years. What does this tell us about the direction we’ve been following?

  • First, diabetes cannot be primarily a genetic disease, since the prior statistic has taken place within the same generation, and presumably contains essentially the same genetics, and 
  • Secondly, something that we have been doing is obviously wrong and needs to be changed.

That “something” is diet.

It is difficult, or perhaps even impossible, to actually prove that something is true. However, it is not difficult to prove that something is false. For the last 50 years or so, Americans have followed the dietary recommendations of a high complex carbohydrate, low saturated fat diet.

As an example, WebMD; one of the most visited medical information sites on the web, states that people with diabetes, who also have abnormal cholesterol levels, would be well advised to follow a diet that calls for 50 to 60 percent of your daily total calories to be in the form of carbohydrates.

They also state that table sugar is okay, as long as you readjust your medications to compensate appropriately (i.e. take more drugs to increase your fat cell storage capacity). Using artificial sweeteners in lieu of sugar also gets the green light, but I won’t rant about that here.

While much of their advice is fine, and tries to remain well-balanced, the problem with these conventional recommendations lies in the details. Concomitant with that standard recommendation the incidence of diabetes and obesity has skyrocketed, and has become one of the worst epidemics the world has ever seen.

Eating a high "complex" carbohydrate, low saturated fat diet for health and longevity has been shown to be wrong. Minimal common sense would say to try something else.

What’s the Missing Dietary Link?

That would be an eating plan that emphasizes good fats and reduced non-fiber carbohydrates and starches as outlined in my Total Health Program. Doing so will greatly improve and even reverse type 2 "insulin resistant" diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, many other chronic diseases of aging, all without the use of potentially dangerous drugs.