Diabetes has almost become a household name - 1 in every 10 Americans has the disorder. According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report 2020, diabetes has been on the rise among the youth. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) accounts for almost 90-95% of cases in the US. According to new research presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) 2021, the commonly used osteoporosis drug alendronate can help reduce the risk of T2D.
The Different Types of Diabetes & Their Complications
Diabetes occurs due to either the body’s incapability to utilize insulin or produce insulin.
It can also happen if there’s an overproduction of insulin (diabetes insipidus).
Diabetes has two forms - type 1 diabetes mellitus and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
General symptoms of diabetes include:
- Increased thirst & hunger
- Fatigue & vision blurring
- Increased urination frequency
- Cuts & sores usually take a lot of time to heal
- Intermittent mood changes or get irritated easily
Type 2 diabetes mellitus
The most common form of diabetes, T2D, is characterized by insulin resistance.
The body’s cells stop utilizing insulin, and blood glucose levels start rising.
T2D usually develops over time, and many people might not notice until the disorder has progressed quite a lot.
In addition, T2D is a multifactorial disorder, i.e., the condition may get triggered by both genetic and environmental factors.
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Type 1 diabetes mellitus
In type 1 diabetes (T1D), the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy pancreas cells, which would otherwise produce insulin.
In the event of the death of enough pancreatic cells, the body becomes incapable of making insulin.
This leads to a rise in blood sugar levels.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder and usually occurs due to inheritance.
An individual develops the condition when one or more family members also suffers from it.
Symptoms of T1D usually progress pretty rapidly once it gets triggered, sometimes within weeks or months.
Image: Types of Diabetes
How Does Osteoporosis Come Into The Picture? - Comorbidities of Diabetes & Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is characterized by decreased bone strength which increases the risk of fractures.
This occurs due to a combination of low bone mass, reduced bone quality, and slight structural deformities.
Diabetes and osteoporosis share quite the comorbidity that is still being widely investigated.
The risk of fractures increases approximately 6% in T1D due to low bone mass.
In T2D, even though bone mass may be maintained, inferior quality of bone increases the risk of fractures by almost twice in the general populace.
Several factors actively contribute to the comorbidity of osteoporosis and diabetes, such as:
- Hyperglycemia or increased blood sugar level
- Hypoglycemia or reduced blood sugar level
- Deficiency and overproduction of insulin affect bone turnover, formation, and quality
- Changes in the collagen gene COL1A1 and vitamin receptor genes affect the bone mineral density
- Changes in the collagen-cross link formation
- Obesity and body mass index
- Vitamin D insufficiency
- Complications with blood vascular system consistent with both types of diabetes, affecting bone marrow blood vessel
- Some studies also report the effect of diabetic drugs on bones
The Study: Anti-Osteoporosis Drug May Reduce Type-2 Diabetes Risk
The study led by Dr. Rikke Viggers of Aalborg University Hospital, Denmark, explored the effects of the osteoporotic drug alendronate on type-2 diabetic patients.
Rikke Viggers and colleagues examined patient data from the Danish National Patient Registry from 2008-2018.
These were individuals who were 50 years old and more and developed diabetes after 2008.
Furthermore, the patients’ prescription records were examined to check for the usage of alendronate and its effect on the onset of diabetes.
Findings Of The Study
- Compared to people who did not take alendronate, people who took the drug had a 36% less chance of developing diabetes.
- There was a 58% reduction in diabetes risk among the people who have been taking alendronate for more than eight years.
Image: Study Results
The study’s findings suggest a possible protective effect of alendronate against diabetes.
However, the researchers concluded that further clinical research on this front was needed to confirm the protective effects.
- T2D is a pretty standard health burden on the US as well as worldwide.
- T2D is usually characterized by insulin resistance of the cells. T1D is an autoimmune condition where the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin.
- Osteoporosis and diabetes share some comorbidities influenced by increased or decreased blood sugar levels, insulin deficiency or oversecretion, vitamin D insufficiency, etc.
- A recent study explored the relationship between a drug used to treat osteoporosis (alendronate) and type 2 diabetes risk.
- The study reported that alendronate use decreases the risk of T2D by 36%, and when used for more than eight years, by 58%.
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