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Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes May Include Low Melatonin

Jacky Gale | April 8th, 2013

Risk Factors for Type 2 DiabetesA new study suggests that low levels of melatonin and type 2 diabetes may be strongly linked. Melatonin is a hormone that plays a significant role in the regulation of the body’s sleep-wake cycle and biological clock. While additional research is needed, it appears that this key hormone is one more piece of the puzzle in deciphering the risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

Study evaluates risk factors for type 2 diabetes

In this latest study, which will be published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers evaluated the likelihood of women in developing  type 2 diabetes. Dr. Ciaran McMullan of Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital was the lead author on the study. McMullan and his colleagues reviewed 12 years of data from the U.S. Nurses’ Health Study. Their research involved 370 women without diabetes and 370 women who developed type 2 diabetes during the years from 2000 to 2012.

The researchers compared women with the lowest melatonin levels to the highest and found that those with lower levels had an increased risk of diabetes by a factor of 2.17. To control other variables, the researchers considered factors such as diet, exercise, sleeping patterns, smoking history, and hours of sleep. McMullan and his colleagues pointed out that the increased risk factors for type 2 diabetes appeared to be independent of the number of hours of sleep the women were typically getting. This is significant because sleep deprivation is known to raise levels of ghrelin, the so-called “hunger hormone,” which can predispose a person to eating more refined carbs, and thus potentially raising the risk for diabetes. However, the deficiency in melatonin appeared to be a significant risk factor by itself.

Melatonin may affect the pancreas

McMullan and his colleagues noted that it is yet unknown whether melatonin deficiency might cause or contribute to type 2 diabetes development, or whether the disease itself might cause low melatonin levels. It is known, however, that humans have receptors for melatonin throughout the body, including the pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for manufacturing insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar. The researchers speculated that melatonin may possibly play a role in insulin production; however, further research is needed.

How patients are reversing pre diabetes with diet

Patients who are facing pre diabetes or a diabetes diagnosis should remember that melatonin is just one piece of the puzzle. There are many risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including genetics, diet, exercise, and other lifestyle habits. However, making positive changes to your diet, in many cases can help patients prevent diabetes, manage it, or reverse it.

Achieving normal blood glucose levels with a diabetic diet

Dr. Michael Kaplan, medical director of The Center for Medical Weight Loss, the nation’s largest network of weight loss physicians, says diet is an important key to reversing pre diabetes, and reversing diabetes completely. “We have helped many patients achieve normal blood glucose levels through healthy, sustainable dietary modifications. The Centers’ physicians work with patients on a one-to-one basis to customize a program that works with a person’s lifestyle, preferences, and medical history.”  With over 450 Centers in 45 states, the network has a tremendous success rate with diabetes. You can find out more by visiting