by Mitchell Clute
A 12-year study conducted at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, England, found a strong correlation between increased vitamin C blood serum levels and decreased risk of diabetes, according to findings published in the July 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. The study, which followed 21,831 men and women, discovered that higher vitamin C levels reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 62 percent.
The study also found a weaker association between fruit and vegetable intake and diabetes risk, with study participants who consumed the most fruit and vegetables showing a 22 percent reduction in risk.
The participants’ average age was 58.4 at the outset of the study, and two-thirds of those participating were women.
"We've seen in vitro and animal studies suggesting an effect, but this is the largest human study to date," said Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the Natural Products Association, based in Washington, D.C. "It's interesting that supplements are being studied more and more for disease etiologies and the importance of proper nutrition as it relates to preventive health. One study is not conclusive, but it certainly bodes well."
The news comes on the heels of smaller studies that have also found a link between vitamin C and blood glucose levels, including a recent Iranian study on type 2 diabetes patients published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research.
Obesity is one of the key risk factors for diabetes, and the study's lead author, Anne-Helen Harding, wrote, "Fruit and vegetable consumption may be protective for diabetes risk, at least partially, through its effect on obesity." Fruit and vegetable fiber intake was found not to have an effect on diabetes, but the authors speculated that the antioxidant activity of vitamins and phytochemicals in the fruits might help prevent or mitigate disturbed glucose metabolism and hyperglycemia.
Currently in the EU, an estimated 4 percent of the population, or 19 million people, suffer from diabetes, while in the U.S. that number is higher, at 7 percent or more than 20 million people. According to the American Diabetes Association, total costs for diabetes care is thought to be more than $132 billion annually.
"The best thing about a positive study like this is that it can really shine a light on the problem and help secure more funding for similar studies," said Fabricant. It's a huge area of interest, and the obesity rates in this country point to the need for more information about metabolic disease."