Low melatonin levels may increase risk for type 2 diabetes

diabetes illus250x03 Low melatonin levels may increase risk for type 2 diabetes More evidence has surfaced suggesting low levels of melatonin, the naturally occurring hormone in humans that regulates sleep-wake cycles, increases the risk for type 2 diabetes.

The new study, which was featured in the April 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, involved data from the Nurses’ Health Study cohort. Researchers found that women who had the least amount of melatonin secretion had more than double the risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to women with the highest levels of melatonin secretion. The study only looked at melatonin levels and diabetes risks in women, but researchers say they suspect the same results would be found in male subjects.

Low levels of melatonin have been associated with poor sleep and diabetes in previous studies. Some studies have suggested that poor sleep can lead to overeating and unhealthy eating habits, which can contribute to type 2 diabetes. The new research also strongly suggests that melatonin has a direct effect on the pancreas and secretion of insulin. Despite the results, researchers say that people should not take melatonin supplements in an effort to prevent the disease.

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic illness in which the body cannot regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin and often medication are prescribed to help keep blood sugar levels in check. However, many type 2 diabetes medications carry serious risks.

For example, in 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) severely restricted Avandia after it was tied to fatal heart attacks. A year later the agency warned that Actos increased the risk for bladder cancer, especially in patients who used the drug long term.

Source: MedPage Today