Diabetes Linked to Melatonin Secretion While Sleeping

Researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have found an association between the increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and decreased melatonin secretion. The study results indicated that the participants that secreted the least melatonin in their bloodstream during sleep experienced twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  The findings have been published in a JAMA study this month.

Previous studies have indicated the role of melatonin in glucose metabolism. The researchers this time were able to provide an independent association to the process. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate other hormones as well as the body’s day-night cycle. It is produced in the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin is secreted into the bloodstream and peaks during the night. The cycle of melatonin secretion is critical to the quality of sleep that people get. A normal cycle results in a good night’s sleep while people may experience disturbed sleep patterns when the melatonin secretion cycle is disrupted.

The study that linked melatonin to type 2 diabetes development involved examining the data from a subset of 740 women that took part in the Nurses Health Study. From the period of 2000 to 2012, 370 of the women developed diabetes. The other 370 participants remained healthy over the same period and were matched with the other subset. All the participants gave blood and urine samples since 2000.

When the researchers, led by Ciaran McMullan, M.D. and a researcher in the Renal Division and Kidney Clinical Research Institute at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, examined the data and compared the results between the two subsets, the researchers found out that the women with low levels of night-time melatonin secretions also had twice the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Even when the researchers accounted for other type 2 diabetes risk factors such as BMI, lifestyle factors such as diet, and exercise, age, family history and others, the link between reduced melatonin secretions and increased type 2 diabetes risk was still quite significant.

Dr. McMullan concluded, “Lower melatonin secretion was independently associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Further research is warranted to assess if melatonin secretion is a modifiable risk factor for diabetes within the general population.”

Source: Medical News Today


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