New tests performed on participants of the KORA study have shown that people with a good supply of vitamin D have a lower risk of developing Typ 2 diabetes mellitus, while individuals with lower concentrations of vitamin D in their blood have a higher risk. This effect could be attributable, amongst other things, to the anti-inflammatory effect of vitamin D. The result of the study, which was conducted at the Helmholtz Zentrum München in cooperation with Dr. Christian Herder of the German Diabetes Center in Düsseldorf and Dr. Wolfgang König, Professor of Medicine/Cardiology at the University of Ulm, could have direct consequences for the prevention of this common disease.
“Vitamin D deficiency is relatively widespread due to our modern way of life and the geographical latitude of Germany. In the winter months, in particular, people often do not receive adequate supplies of the vitamin because of the lack of sunlight,” explains Dr. Barbara Thorand of the Institute for Epidemiology II at the Helmholtz Zentrum München. “If follow-up studies confirm our results, a targeted improvement in the supply of vitamin D to the general public could at the same time reduce the risk of developing diabetes.” The human body can produce vitamin D itself if it has sufficient exposure to sunlight. The UVB radiation in natural daylight splits the precursor of vitamin D, 7-dehydrocholesterol, in the skin and forms provitamin D3. Further vitamin D synthesis occurs in the liver and kidneys. In addition, the supply can be improved by eating specific foods, such as oily fish, eggs and milk products, or by taking vitamin D supplements.
More than six million people in Germany suffer from Type 2 diabetes mellitus, and the number of undiagnosed cases could be equally high. Up to now, there has been no cure for this common disease. Type 2 diabetes is a disorder of glucose metabolism. It is characterized by a loss of insulin action and a drop in the levels of the hormone produced by the body. The mechanisms that trigger the disease have not yet been fully clarified. However, it is known that diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors. The objective of the Helmholtz Zentrum München is to understand the mechanisms that cause common diseases and to develop new approaches with regard to their diagnosis, therapy and prevention.
Thorand B et al (2011): Effect of Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D on Risk for Type 2 Diabetes May Be Partially Mediated by Subclinical Inflammation: Results from the MONICA/KORA Augsburg study. Diabetes Care. 2011 Aug 26. [Epub ahead of print]; Volume 34, Number 10
Link to specialist publication http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/34/10/2320.long
For more than 20 years, the Cooperative Health Research in the Region of Augsburg (KORA) has been examining the health of thousands of citizens in Augsburg and environs. The aim of the project is to increase understanding of the impact of environmental factors, behaviour and genes on human health. The KORA studies focus on matters relating to the development and progression of chronic diseases, in particular myocardial infarction and diabetes mellitus. Research is therefore conducted into risk factors arising from lifestyle factors (including smoking, diet and exercise), environmental factors (including air pollution and noise) and genetics. Questions relating to the use and cost of health services are examined from the point of view of health services research. www.helmholtz-muenchen.de/kora
The Helmholtz Zentrum München, the German Research Centre for Environmental Health, aims to develop personalised medicine for the diagnosis, therapy and prevention of common diseases such as diabetes mellitus and lung diseases. To that end, it examines the interaction of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. The Helmholtz Zentrum München is based in Neuherberg in the north of Munich and has about 1,900 staff members. It is a member of the Helmholtz Association, a community of 17 scientific-technical and medical-biological research centres with a total of 31,000 staff. www.helmholtz-muenchen.de
Contact for media representatives
Sven Winkler, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Centre for Environmental Health, Ingolstädter Landstrasse 1, 85764 Neuherberg – Tel.: +49 89-3187-3946 – Fax: +49 89-3187-3324 – E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For the study: PD Dr. Barbara Thorand, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Centre for Environmental Health, Institute for Epidemiology II, Ingolstädter Landstrasse 1, 85764 Neuherberg,
Tel. +49 89 3187-4480, E-Mail: email@example.com
For KORA: Prof. Dr. Annette Peters, Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Centre for Environmental Health, Institute for Epidemiology II, Ingolstädter Landstrasse 1, 85764 Neuherberg,
Tel. +49 89 3187-4566, E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org