Add Muscle Weakness as Another Cost of Type 1 Diabetes

Add Muscle Weakness as Another Cost of Type 1 Diabetes

Poor muscle health may be a complication of type 1 diabetes, even in young people who get plenty of exercise.

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That's the finding of Canadian researchers who analyzed muscle samples from young adults with and without type 1 diabetes who did more than the weekly amount of exercise recommended by Diabetes Canada.

In the young adults with diabetes, the muscle biopsies revealed structural and functional changes in the "power plants" (mitochondria) of cells. The mitochondria produced lower-than-normal amounts of energy and released high amounts of toxins that cause cell damage.

These changes could lead to slower metabolism, greater difficulty controlling blood sugar and a faster onset of disability, according to the authors of the study, published April 18 in the journal Diabetologia.

The authors said their findings show that poor muscle health should be added to the known complications of type 1 diabetes, along with nerve damage, heart disease and kidney disorders.

"Now we know that even active people with diabetes have changes in their muscles that could impair their ability to manage blood sugar," said corresponding author Thomas Hawke. He is a professor of pathology and molecular medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

"Knowing in the long term that this could contribute to faster development of disability, we can start to address it early on," Hawke added in a journal news release.

Study co-senior author Christopher Perry explained that "skeletal muscle is our largest metabolic organ and is the primary tissue for clearing blood sugar after eating a meal, so we need to keep muscle as healthy as possible." Perry is an associate professor at the Muscle Health Research Center at York University in Toronto.

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The findings suggest that exercise guidelines for people with type 1 diabetes may need to be revised to optimize their muscle health, Perry said.

More information

The American Diabetes Association has more on type 1 diabetes.


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