A link has been found between a hormone commonly associated with high blood pressure and developing type 2 diabetes.
Aldosterone, produced by the adrenal gland, is linked with hypertension (high blood pressure), and new research has shown it also has an association with increased insulin resistance, which can raise type 2 diabetes risk.
American researchers say aldosterone had a particularly increased association with type 2 diabetes among black and ethnic communities.
While an association has been observed, more research will be needed to confirm this. The researchers behind the study are currently enrolling for a trial later this year.
Dr Joshua J Joseph, lead investigator and an endocrinologist at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, said: “Aldosterone is produced by the adrenal gland. We’ve known for some time that it increases blood pressure.
“We’ve recently learned it also increases insulin resistance in muscle and impairs insulin secretion from the pancreas. Both actions increase a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but the question was – how much?”
The trial involved 1,600 people over 10 years who had participated in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. The findings suggested that those who had higher levels of aldosterone were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
The risk factors were even greater across the African American communities with nearly a three-fold increased risk. Chinese Americans were found to be 10 times more likely to develop diabetes.
Dr Joseph added: “I looked into this as a promise to my father. He had high levels of aldosterone that contributed to his hypertensio, and he thought it also might be linked to his diabetes. As my career progressed, I had the opportunity to research it, and we did find a link to diabetes.
“We know there’s a relationship between aldosterone and type 2 diabetes. Now we need to determine thresholds that will guide clinical care and the best medication for treatment.
“In the future, I believe that this research with lowering aldosterone levels will help to prevent diabetes.”
The findings of the study have been published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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