Mt. Everest Study Details How Type 2 Diabetes Develops

shutterstock_119392414Researchers from the University of Southampton and University College London conducted a study on Mt. Everest to determine how low oxygen levels in the body, which is known as hypoxia, may be linked to the development of insulin resistance. It also provides some added insight on how type 2 diabetes can develop.

The researchers used the high altitudes of Everest to simulate the low oxygen levels. The study, called the Caudwell Xtreme Everest, was first conducted in 2007. The study includes intensive care doctors, nurses and scientists as participants who conducted experiments on themselves along with the other volunteers. Twenty-four individuals went to Mt. Everest Base Camp, which is at an altitude of 5,300 meters, and conducted measurements regarding body weight changes, glucose control, and existence of inflammation biomarkers.

Eventually, half of the participants climbed to the Everest summit at an altitude of 8,848 meters. At week 6 and week 8 of the study, measurements were once again taken in each group. At the end of the study period, the researchers discovered that several insulin resistance markers increased after the participants were exposed to hypoxia at high altitudes for an extended period of time. The said changes were connected to increased levels of inflammation markers in the blood as well as oxidative stress. According to Prof. Mike Grocott, who is a professor at the University of Southampton and co-founder of UCL CASE Medicine, the findings gave them a better understanding of insulin resistance. He said, “Fat tissue in obese people is believed to exist in a chronic state of mild hypoxia because the small blood vessels are unable to supply sufficient oxygen to fat tissue.”

“Our study was unique in that it enabled us to see things in healthy people at altitude that which we might normally only see in obese people at sea level. The results suggest possible interventions to reduce progression towards full-blown diabetes, including measures to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body,” Prof. Grocott further added.

Understanding the different ways insulin resistance may develop in the body can give researchers develop treatment to help address these problems. Results of the said study are published in the journal PLOS One.

Source: Medical News Today


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