More and more of what I read about diabetes implicates inflammation. So
when Dr. Michael Jaff told me about its role in peripheral arterial
disease (PAD) I took the opportunity to delve into what he could tell
me about both inflammation and PAD. Dr. Jaff is the medical director of the Vascular Diagnostic Laboratory at
Massachusetts General Hospital and a specialist in treating PAD. My previous article here reported on our discussion of the role of exercise in preventing PAD, which is one of the complications of diabetes. Inflammation is a broad term. It includes everything from peritoneal disease to muscle soreness and plaque in our arteries. "We
all think about
inflammation as in inflamed joints after we exercise," Dr. Jaff began.
"Things like that. But there is a fairly common pathway for all forms
of inflammation." We have certain cells that
cause inflammation, and they are white blood cells. Most people think of
white blood cells as those that fight off infection, but in fact white
Acute inflammation is the body's natural response to tissue damage. Its purpose is to defend the body against harmful substances, dispose of dead or dying tissue and to promote the renewal of normal tissue. Therefore, inflammation is normal if we are ill from a virus or bacterial infection or we injure ourselves.
However, chronic inflammation is different. Chronic inflammation is involved in many autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and even some cancers. Mounting evidence is now showing that chronic inflammation is also likely part of the Alzheimer’s puzzle.
In 2010, Karl Herrup, the chair of the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience at Rutgers University, wrote that he believes "...three key steps…are needed for an individual to progress …to the full spectrum of Alzheimer’s clinical symptoms: an initiating injury that is probably vascular in nature; an inflammatory response that is both chronic and unique to...
More and more research pinpoints inflammation as a root cause of type 2 diabetes. Being overweight makes it harder for us to control our diabetes, but that can't be what causes it. Since a lot more people are overweight or obese than have diabetes, weight alone can't lead to diabetes. No one ever demonstrated that obesity causes diabetes or even insulin resistance. In my most recent book, Losing Weight with Your Diabetes Medication , I speculated that essentially it might be the other way around: That what makes so many of us overweight could be insulin resistance or impaired beta cells.
Type 2 diabetes generally results from the combination of impaired beta cell function and insulin resistance acting on susceptible genes. Why then is there such a large overlap between being heavy and type 2 diabetes? When our beta cells don't function properly, we are likely to get diabetes, Endocrinologist Daniel Porte Jr., M.D., who is now associated with the VA San Diego Health Care System...
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