Zinc-Diabetes Link Examined In New Study

First Posted: Nov 12, 2014 05:48 PM EST

Researchers at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine have found a potential link between zinc and diabetes.

"There are more than 50 genetic variants associated with increased risk for type 2 diabetes, and some of these genes or others may also cause people to interact differently with treatments. Our results would suggest there are gene-specific differences in how people respond to zinc," said assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in a news release.

To further understand the issue, researchers studied how insulin absorption worked in 55 individuals from the Older Order Amish community. Researchers studied this lifestyle and genealogy. Findings revealed that a protein alteration that affected zinc absorption in the insulin cells. Thirty-two individuals did not have the alteration while the remaining carried the altered protein.

During the study, they gave both groups 50 milligrams zinc twice daily for two weeks. The participants were asked to inject glucose during the study period, with insulin and blood sugar levels measured five minutes and 10 minutes after glucose injection.

The experiment helped them conclude that those without protein alteration could benefit from zinc supplements if they developed diabetes.

"At the end of the two weeks of zinc supplementation, participants without the genetic alteration experienced a 26 percent relative increase in insulin response at five minutes compared to those with the alteration, indicating that zinc may be beneficial to those without the alteration, should they develop diabetes," researchers wrote.

As previous findings have examined the link between blood zinc levels and diabetes, indicating high level associations with a lower risk of diabetes, it is also known that urine zinc levels can be higher than levels in diabetics. Furthermore, these findings have helped to further the genetic basis of zinc-diabetes association.

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the journal Diabetologia.

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