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Diabetes type 2: Dr Zoe Williams discusses high blood sugar risks
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Birmingham researchers have called for a review of healthcare policies around diabetes and high blood pressure. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reveals that benign tumours on the adrenal gland can release hormones that worsen blood pressure and increase diabetes risk. 10 percent of the adult population are believed to have such tumours. The researchers found that women, particularly postmenopausal women, were more susceptible to this increased risk.
An adrenal incidentaloma is a benign tumour that occurs on the adrenal glands, found on the top of the kidneys.
These tumours do not invade other tissues and do not pose a direct health risk.
The researchers found that the tumours could release harmful amounts of the hormone cortisol, anastrozole joint pain a condition called Mild Autonomous Cortisol Secretion (MACS).
Where smaller previous studies found the prevalence of MACS to be around one in three, the new study suggests it is close to half of the population with adrenal tumours.
The researchers found that MACS was much more common in women, making up 70 percent of the cases they found.
Most of these women were over the age of 50.
The researchers extrapolate from the numbers they found in the study to speculate that as many as 1.3 million adults in the UK could have MACS.
MACS has been linked to several negative health outcomes, such as more severe diabetes and high blood pressure, which increases the risk of further complications such as heart disease.
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First author Dr Alessandro Prete said: “Compared to those without MACS, we observed that patients with MACS were more likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure and to require three or more tablets to achieve adequate blood pressure control.
“When we looked at patients with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, those with MACS were twice more likely to be treated with insulin, indicating that other medications haven’t helped managing their blood sugar levels.
“In conclusion, our study found that MACS is very frequent and is an important risk condition for high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, especially in older women, and the impact of MACS on high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes risk has been underestimated until now.”
Senior author Professor Weibke Arlt explained that research indicates a need for better screening for these conditions.
They said: “Our hope is that this research will put a spotlight on this condition and increase awareness of its impact on health.
“We advocate that all patients who are found to carry an adrenal incidentaloma are tested for MACS and have their blood pressure and glucose levels measured regularly.”
Future research in the area will focus on how excess cortisol causes metabolic harm.
Diabetes UK, who helped fund the research, also aims to develop a blood test for MACS that can simplify testing and identify people at risk.
There is also hope that the research will pave the wave for a treatment strategy in MACS patients.
The hope is to improve the medical outcomes and quality of life for the estimated 1.3 million people with MACS.
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