Posted by Temiloluwa Ogundele / On December 19, 2017


A new research has revealed that patients taking painkillers alongside medication for heart disease, stroke or diabetes are 95 per cent more likely to become obese as the sedative drugs make people inactive and affect their metabolism.

Researchers from the University of Newcastle analyzed 133,401 people taking drugs for diabetes, heart disease or stroke. Of which, 7,423 participants were also prescribed medication, including opioids, for chronic pain and conditions such as migraines and lower-back discomfort. Results reveal people taking painkillers alongside drugs for heart disease, diabetes and stroke are 95 per cent more likely to be obese.

The study identifies the following opioid drugs as being a major cause of obesity; a ‘very high risk’ waist circumference and elevated blood pressure in people taking drugs for heart disease, stroke or diabetes: Morphine sulphate tablets; Tramadol; Paracetomol + Tramadol; Oramorph; Co-codamol; Codydramol (paracetamol + dihydrocodeine); Fentanyl patch; and Buprenorphine.

Also, diabetes is known to increase a person’s risk of kidney disease. A recent study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests that the converse also is true: Kidney dysfunction increases the risk of diabetes.

Further, the researchers deduced that a likely culprit of the two-way relationship between kidney disease and diabetes is urea. The nitrogen-containing waste product in blood comes from the breakdown of protein in foods. Kidneys normally remove urea from the blood, but it can build up when kidney function slows down. When urea builds up in the blood because of kidney dysfunction, it often results to increased insulin resistance and impaired insulin secretion.

These findings are significant because urea levels can be lowered through medication, diet — for example, by eating less protein — and other means, thereby allowing for improved treatment and possible prevention of diabetes.

Ziyad Al-Aly, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University conducted an epidemiological study in collaboration with scientists at the St. Louis Veterans Affairs’ where they examined medical records in national VA databases to dissect the relationship between kidney disease and diabetes. They evaluated the records of 1.3 million adults without diabetes over a five-year period, beginning in 2003.

A common blood test that measures the amount of urea nitrogen found in the blood showed that 117,000/ 9% of those without diabetes had elevated urea levels, signaling poor kidney function. “That figure (9%) remained relatively constant over time,” Al-Aly said. “It is also reflective of the general population.”

Overall, he said, those with high urea levels had a 23 percent higher risk of diabetes — a figure they determined by comparing risk between those with high and low urea levels. In each year studied, the researchers documented new cases of diabetes in 2,989 of every 100,000 people with low urea levels and 3,677 new cases of diabetes among those with high urea levels.

“The risk difference between high and low levels is 688 cases of diabetes per 100,000 people each year,” Al-Aly said. “This means that for every 100,000 people, there would be 688 more cases of diabetes each year in those with higher urea levels.”

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