Wednesday, October 05, 2005

You Paid for It: Dumb Diabetes Study Awards

As many people know, I believe that the priority for diabetes research must shift away from trying to improve ongoing treatment to cure-related research, otherwise patients with diabetes will never be cured. A lot of money is wasted on unnecessary diabetes studies to prove how diabetes control can be improved, by how much, etc., and most of these studies have failed to deliver improved patient results. Local television stations around the country frequently feature a series highlighting government waste in the community called "You Paid For It" or some similar title. I have decided to do something very similar with the objective of highlighting foolish diabetes-related research that is done over the course of the year. At the end of the year, I will ask members to vote for the Dumb Diabetes Study of the Year.

Although it is only October 5, 2005; a study published on the American Diabetes Association's website on October 1, 2005 and also recently published in Diabetes Forecast (although the study itself was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in March 2005) has me believing that nothing quite as dumb is likely to published this month. This, in my opinion, epitomizes unnecessary diabetes spending that only serves to keep researchers working, but does little if anything to improve the lives of people actually suffering from diabetes. Note that I find the last sentence from this article especially disturbing: "More study is needed" the study's authors say.

Below is my nomination for October 2005. Remember, if you are a U.S. taxpayer, you paid for this study, as the VHA is a federally-funded organization!

Cold Weather Increases A1Cs
October 1, 2005

Do your A1C levels rise every winter? You're not alone.

A team of researchers working in Veterans Health Administration centers across the country has found a link between cold weather and higher A1C levels. (A1C tests provide a snapshot of blood glucose control over 3 months.) For 2 years, the group studied 272,722 veterans with diabetes. The AlC levels of those in the study group were averaged and analyzed by climate and season.

After considering other factors that could affect A1C levels, such as age, sex, race, and severity of diabetes, the researchers found an independent seasonal pattern linked to colder temperatures. In all climates, A1C levels peaked from February through April; they hit their lowest points in August through September. The average increase in A1C levels from summer to winter was 0.22%.

The people who experienced the most fluctuation in terms of their AlC levels were those who lived in what the researchers called "intermediate" climates-places where winter temperatures ranged from 32°F to 40°F.

Interestingly, people who lived in the coldest areas-places where winter temperatures ranged from 5°F to 32°F-experienced a little less fluctuation in terms of their A1C levels. The researchers don't know why this is, but they speculate that perhaps people with diabetes who live in very cold regions don't go outside as much in the winter. By staying inside, they would have less exposure to the effects of the cold.

The authors still aren't sure how cold triggers a rise of A1C levels, but they suspect it may be the same unknown physical response to cold that also causes blood pressure and heart rate to rise. Previous studies have shown that cardiovascular events and strokes follow a similar seasonal pattern. These patterns could influence how diabetes control is maintained. More study is needed, the authors say.

This study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in March 2005.

(C) 2005 Diabetes Forecast. All Rights Reserved.

2 comments:

newdonna said...

That is crazy! I bet we could end their research with a list of things that happen in the winter, to everyone, not just diabetics, that may raise your A1C! How about the common cold! Where are they doing this research - on a tropical beach on a perfect day???

Scott said...

I plan on having people vote for the 2005 "winner" -- I'll post instructions on where to vote soon! Any ideas for an appropriate prize or award? I was thinking maybe a packet of Sweet & Low or something similar!!