Kidney Disease Raises Risk For Diabetes, Study Reveals

We know that having diabetes increases our risk for kidney disease, and now research suggests kidney dysfunction increases the risk for diabetes.

Investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggest the two-way link between kidney disease and diabetes is owed to urea, a bloodstream waste product from the breakdown of food proteins. Normally, our kidneys filter out urea, but it builds up in the blood as kidney function wanes.

“We…have a better understanding that kidney disease, through elevated levels of urea…raises the risk of diabetes,” said senior study author Ziyad Al-Aly, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, Washington University. “When urea builds up in the blood because of kidney dysfunction, increased insulin resistance, and impaired insulin secretion often result.”

The research team looked at medical records in national veteran databases to study the relationship between diabetes, and kidney disease. The records of 1.3 million adults without diabetes were analyzed, over a five-year period, starting in 2003.

The adults with high urea levels (9 percent of those studied) had a 23 percent greater risk for diabetes onset, compared to those with low urea levels. “The risk difference between high and low levels is 688 cases of diabetes per 100,000 people each year,” said Al-Aly. “This means that for every 100,000 people, there would be 688 more cases of diabetes each year in those with higher urea levels.”

The study was inspired by earlier research where kidney failure was induced in mice, and many animals subsequently had elevated urea levels, increased insulin resistance, and poor insulin secretion.

“I read the study with excitement and intrigue, and I thought, ‘We have to test this in humans,’” said Al-Aly. “Our results were almost an exact replica of the mouse study. The results showed a clear relationship between urea levels and risk of diabetes.”

Source: WUSTL
Photo credit: Qatar Sweet Epidemic

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