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University researchers make diabetes breakthrough

14.12.2004


Researchers at the University of Essex have found that high doses of vitamin B1 (thiamine) could lower cholesterol in diabetes patients and help prevent heart disease.



The results of the research project, led by Professor Paul J Thornalley of the Department of Biological Sciences, suggest that diabetics should avoid even mild thiamine deficiency and that thiamine supplements could significantly decrease the risk of heart disease and kidney failure.

Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease two to three fold in men and three to five fold in women. The increased risk is linked to high levels of cholesterol and lipids in the blood. Previous studies have shown that the use of drugs, such as statins, can lower the risk of heart disease in diabetics by between 20 and 40 per cent. However, Professor Thornalley’s Disease Mechanisms and Therapeutics Research Group are confident that high doses of thiamine can also help to reverse the increases in blood cholesterol and lipid levels.


Professor Thornalley explained: ’There will of course be clinical trials to investigate further the findings we have made using an experimental model of diabetes. However, given the continuing toll of heart disease in diabetic patients, and the emerging benefits of thiamine therapy for diabetics suffering from kidney disease - as reported by our research group last year - I would strongly suggest that those with diabetes are given thiamine supplements.’

The project was funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (USA) and the findings have been published today in Diabetologia (Spring-Verlag Heidelberg).

Kate Cleveland | alfa
Further information:
http://www.essex.ac.uk/bs/staff/thornalley/index.shtm

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