An old aspirin-like drug called salsalate could help control blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.
The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, involved 286 diabetics. The group was given pills to take every day for nearly a year. Half were given salsalate and the other half were given placebo pills. During the course of the study, those in the salsalate group had lower blood sugar levels and some were even able to reduce the dose of their diabetes medication.
Salsalate is a prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, that has been on the market for years. Unlike NSAIDs, salsalate does not irritate the digestive tract. Today it is most often used to treat arthritis.
While it is unknown how salsalate works to control blood sugar levels, it is thought that the anti-inflammatory property of the drug may reverse the chronic inflammation that is believed to be the cause of diabetes in the obese. It also lowers white blood cell counts involved in inflammation, and boosts levels of adiponectin, thought to be a heart-protecting protein made by fat cells.
Though salsalate proved effective overall for study participants, those taking the drug gained an average of two pounds during the study while those who took the placebo lost an average of one pound. Participants who took salsalate also saw an average 10-point rise in LDL – or bad cholesterol, and they excreted more protein in their urine, which could indicate potential kidney problems.
Researchers say that more study is needed to identify the benefits of salsalate for diabetes control. Currently, studies are looking at whether salsalate can stop plaque buildup in the arteries, an indication of heart disease, which is a leading cause of death among people with type 2 diabetes.
Source: Harvard Health Publications