Intervention induced several months of remission in up to 40% of clinical trial participants.
Type 2 diabetes can be reversed with intensive medical treatment using oral medications, insulin and lifestyle therapies, according to a study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Type 2 diabetes is typically thought of as a chronic condition. As it progresses, individuals with type 2 diabetes often need to use a healthy diet, exercise and an increasingly complex combination of medications to manage the condition.
“By using a combination of oral medications, insulin and lifestyle therapies to treat patients intensively for two to four months, we found that up to 40 percent of participants were able to stay in remission three months after stopping diabetes medications,” said the study’s first author, Natalia McInnes, MD, MSc, FRCPC, of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. “The findings support the notion that type 2 diabetes can be reversed, at least in the short term — not only with bariatric surgery, but with medical approaches.”
One in 10 American adults has type 2 diabetes, according to the Society’s Endocrine Facts and Figures report. The condition occurs when an individual doesn’t produce enough insulin — the hormone that allows cells to absorb glucose in the blood — or the pancreas isn’t making insulin as efficiently as it could. As a result, blood sugars build up in the body and the cells do not receive the energy they need.
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To study ways to put type 2 diabetes into remission, the researchers randomly divided 83 individuals with the condition into three study groups. Two of the groups received an intensive metabolic intervention where they were provided with a personalized exercise plan and a suggested meal plan that reduced their daily calorie intake by 500 to 750 calories a day. These study participants met regularly with a nurse and dietitian to track their progress and received oral medications and insulin at bedtime to tightly manage their blood glucose levels. One group underwent the intervention for eight weeks, while the other was treated intensively for 16 weeks. After the intervention, individuals in both groups stopped taking diabetes medications and were encouraged to continue with lifestyle changes.