The numbers of type 1 diabetics in New Zealand has, in line with global figures, grown substantially in recent years. There are now thought to be 15000 people suffering from type 1 in New Zealand, almost double the figure of 20 years ago. New research conducted by Auckland University implicates meat preservatives, nitrates and nitrites, in the increasing type 1 figures.
Although type 1 diabetes is a genetic disease, it also requires some form of environmental trigger, which is as yet unknown. It is thought that nitrates, used to preserve meats like ham and salami, could be that trigger.
The research, carried out by Auckland scientist Dr Reddy, involved testing a drug called stretozotocin (which uses similar cellular pathways to nitrates) on mice prone to type 1, and other mice not prone. His results, which saw mice from the first group developing diabetes, apparently supported his theory that nitrates could cause type 1.
Experts from around the globe praised Dr Reddy’s studies, and other research indicates that he is not alone in this thinking. His aim is to now to test his theory on human insulin-producing cells.
The message for diabetics, pre-diabetics and the general population seems once again to favour eating a healthy diet and avoiding preservatives.

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