Diabetes Linked to Gut Bacteria
A study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation suggests that bacteria that penetrate the lining of the digestive tract are associated with an increased risk for metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of factors—large waist size, abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, high glucose levels, and more—that increases the risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems. The findings were published in Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
As obesity rates rise in the United States, so do rates of metabolic syndrome. According to Dr. Andrew Gewirtz, professor at the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University and one of the study’s lead authors, changes in GI-tract bacteria lead to chronic inflammation, which interferes with the normal action of insulin in the body and raises the risk for diabetes and other metabolic diseases.
For the study, researchers analyzed biopsies obtained during colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening. Study participants had no known health problems, except diabetes. Follow-up studies are being conducted to identify the bacteria penetrating the lining of the colon, and develop ways to prevent this encroachment and the resulting inflammation.