A pilot study set to uncover the potential of reversing type II diabetes resulted in remission of the disease in 40% of the patients taking part. The treatment involved a combination of intensive lifestyle interventions, oral medication, and insulin therapy.
Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic disease of our time, affecting more than 420 million people worldwide, or one in every ten adults. It´s solely responsible for 1,5 million deaths every year and represents a substantial burden for the global healthcare economy. In contrast to type 1, type 2 diabetes is primarily lifestyle-dependent and develops in adulthood. It represents roughly 90% of all diabetes cases and has long been considered irreversible, although experts had speculated this may not necessarily be the case due to its nature.
A Canadian research team set to explore the latter hypothesis in a recent pilot study involving 83 type 2 diabetics with recorded symptoms for at least 3 years. The patients took part in a new intensive treatment regimen with a highly personalized approach compared to standard therapy. This resulted in partial and complete remission in 40% of participants, a result with revolutionary implications.
“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” said study lead Natalia McInnes, MD.
All patients followed a strict individualized physical activity and diet plan, in combination with taking oral medication and insulin therapy for 8 to 16 weeks. Calorie intake was reduced by 500 to 750 calories per day and patients met with a nurse and a dietitian on a regular basis. They were taken off medication after the intervention period, and were then compared to the control group which followed standard therapy.
“The research might shift the paradigm of treating diabetes from simply controlling glucose to an approach where we induce remission and then monitor patients for any signs of relapse” concluded McInnes.
So far, the treatment has proven that short-term remission in type 2 diabetes patients is not only plausible, but well within reach. However, to determine the long-term implications further studies will need to be carried out on a larger number of patients.
Learn more about type 2 diabetes and approaches to reverse it in the video bellow:
By Luka Zupančič, MSc, University of Applied Sciences Technikum Vienna