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Everest Diabetes Study

April 24, 2014

Bloodwork from climbers of Mount Everest supports theories about oxygen and Type II diabetes.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Diabetes research hits new heights. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Climbers may get more than they bargained for when they summit Mt. Everest. (Wikipedia)

Climbers may get more than they bargained for when they summit Mt. Everest. (Igomezc/Wikipedia)

British scientists are learning how some people may develop type II diabetes – by studying Mount Everest climbers. As University of Southampton clinical care specialist Mike Grocott explains, there’s some evidence that diabetic symptoms, like insulin resistance, can arise from oxygen-deprived tissue. That’s a suspected complication of obesity. And Grocott’s team found that people developed signs of insulin resistance after several weeks in the thin air of Mount Everest.

MIKE GROCOTT (University of Southampton, England):

Their insulin levels were elevated in the face of a normal glucose. And that was also associated with evidence of oxidative stress and inflammation. And this was intriguing because it really mirrors what is being suggested in the obesity literature.

HIRSHON:
If the findings hold up, it could lead to new treatments for type II diabetes that target oxygen deprivation.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.