People with type 2 diabetes may benefit from treatment with a common pain reliever called salsalate.
The anti-inflammatory drug is currently used to treat arthritis, but new research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine shows that it appears to lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes patients, suggesting it has the potential to become a new type of anti-diabetic medication .
For the study, researchers randomly assigned 286 adult type 2 diabetes patients with inadequate blood glucose control to take either placebo or salsalat along with current therapies for 48 weeks.
After 48 weeks of treatment, patients taking salsalate had lower HbA1c (a measure of average blood glucose control over the past six to twelve weeks) and fasting blood glucose levels at all study time points (4, 8, 12, 16, 24, 36, and 48 weeks).
Those in the salsalate group also required fewer additional diabetes medications to control their condition.
Allison Goldfine, an professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston and lead author of the study, said: “Salsalate may have an important role in diabetes treatment and may also help us learn more about how inflammation contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes.”
Improvements in markers associated with cardiovascular disease were also seen in patients taking the arthritis drug, including a 9% fall in triglycerides, as were it anti-inflammatory effects.
However, salsalate treatment did cause a number of side effects, including modest increases in total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or ‘bad’) cholesterol, a slight increase in body weight and elevated urinary albumin levels, which can indicate reduced kidney function.
The researchers said these adverse effects warrant further clinical trials and studies of salsalate to determine the benefit/risk ratio of using to treat type 2 diabetes.

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