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'Mediterranean'-Style Diet Best for Blood Sugar Control
Date:12/16/2008

lthough many drugs are available to control blood sugar levels, the evidence on how well they reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems isn't entirely clear. This makes a proper diet crucial to help control the disease.

For the new study, researchers at St. Michael's Hospital and the University of Toronto in Canada randomly selected more than 200 people with type 2 diabetes to follow either a high-cereal-fiber or a low-glycemic-index diet for six months. All the participants were already taking blood-sugar-lowering medications.

Carbohydrates in a low-glycemic-index diet are absorbed through the small intestine and converted to blood sugar at a slower rate than higher glycemic foods, meaning blood sugar is more stable, the researchers said.

Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels, a longer-term measure of blood sugar levels, decreased by 0.5 percent in people on the low-glycemic-index diet, compared with a decrease of 0.18 percent in the alternate group.

Those in the low-glycemic group also saw an increase in their high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good") cholesterol of 1.7 mg/dL, compared to an HDL decrease of 0.2 mg/dL in the high-cereal-fiber group.

Although the reduction in HbA1c levels was small, the study authors speculated that, based on previous studies, this might result in a 10 percent to 12 percent reduction in cardiovascular complications.

For the second paper in the journal, researchers at the Johns Hopkins University pooled data from 23 completed studies and found that people with diabetes were 41 percent more likely to die of cancer than people who did not have diabetes. Specifically, there was a 76 percent increase in the risk of death from endometrial cancer, a 61 percent increase for breast cancer, and a 32 percent increase for colorectal cancer.

The researchers said possible explanations range from an insulin environment that contributes to tumor cell proliferation, to less-rigorous scr
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