Study finds diabetes drug may prevent, slow kidney disease

In this Sept. 24, 2018 file photo, a patient undergoes dialysis at a clinic in Sacramento, California. Results of a study released on April 14, 2019 show that the diabetes drug Invokana has been shown to help prevent or delay worsening of kidney disease, which causes millions of deaths each year and requires hundreds of thousands of people to use dialysis to stay alive. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Updated 15 April 2019

Study finds diabetes drug may prevent, slow kidney disease

WASHINGTON: A drug that’s used to help control blood sugar in people with diabetes has now been shown to help prevent or slow kidney disease, which causes millions of deaths each year and requires hundreds of thousands of people to use dialysis to stay alive.
Doctors say it’s hard to overstate the importance of this study, and what it means for curbing this problem, which is growing because of the obesity epidemic.
The study tested Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ drug Invokana. Results were discussed Sunday at a medical meeting in Australia and published by the New England Journal of Medicine.
About 30 million Americans and more than 420 million people worldwide have diabetes , and most cases are Type 2, the kind tied to obesity. It occurs when the body can’t make enough or properly use insulin, which turns food into energy.
This can damage the kidneys over time, causing disease and ultimately, failure. In the US, it’s responsible for nearly half a million people needing dialysis, and for thousands of kidney transplants each year.
Some blood pressure drugs lower this risk but they’re only partially effective. The new study tested Invokana, a daily pill sold now to help control blood sugar, to see if it also could help prevent kidney disease when added to standard treatments.
For the study, about 13,000 people with Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease from around the world were to be given Invokana or dummy pills. Independent monitors stopped the study early, after 4,400 people had been treated for about 2.5 years on average, when it was clear the drug was helping.
Those on the drug had a 30% lower risk of one of these problems — kidney failure, need for dialysis, need for a kidney transplant, death from kidney- or heart-related causes, or other signs that kidneys were failing.
For every 1,000 people taking the drug for 2.5 years, there would be 47 fewer cases of one of these problems, researchers estimate.
Rates of serious side effects were similar in the drug and placebo groups including leg, foot or toe amputations, a concern raised by a previous study of Invokana. One side effect, when the body can’t produce enough insulin, was more frequent among those on Invokana but rare overall.
Janssen, which is part of Johnson & Johnson, sponsored the study and many authors work or consult for the company. The drug costs about $500 a month in the US Out-of-pocket costs for patients may be different, depending on insurance.
The importance of this large and well-done study “cannot be overstated,” Drs. Julie Ingelfinger and Clifford Rosen, editors at the medical journal, wrote in an accompanying article.
In recent years, several studies have found that Invokana and some similar drugs can lower heart risks. The new results, showing that Invokana also may stall or prevent kidney failure, expand the potential benefits of the drug.


Five reasons to add acai berries to your diet

Updated 03 August 2020

Five reasons to add acai berries to your diet

DUBAI: Learn all about the superfoods that will help you live a longer and healthier life. Devinder Bains, personal trainer and nutrition coach at Fit Squad DXB, fills you in…

The acai bowl is more than just an Instagram craze — the acai berry is so high in nutrients that it even beats super fruits such as blueberries and cranberries.

Acai berries don’t last long, however, so unless you live near the Amazon, you will need to buy acai pulp frozen, in powder form or as oil for the skin. And be careful when adding extras to your acai bowl — avoid sugar-rich granola and brownies to reap the numerous health benefits listed below.

Anti-aging benefits

There is a strong connection between acai and anti-aging due to the abundance of cell-repairing antioxidants and the high levels of vitamins A, B, C and E, as well as various minerals that contribute to keeping the skin moisturised and wrinkles at bay. As well as adding acai to your diet, look into skincare products made with acai oil for a double boost.

There is a strong connection between acai and anti-aging. Shutterstock

Lowers bad cholesterol

Acai berries contain plant sterols, which are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains and prevent the body from absorbing dietary cholesterol. A small study on overweight participants who were fed acai pulp every day for 30 days found lower total cholesterol, lower bad cholesterol and more controlled blood sugar levels. Another study showed an increase in good cholesterol in women. Antioxidants in acai are also beneficial for diabetes sufferers and those with high blood pressure.

Improved brain function

A 2013 study found that as well as being rich in antioxidants that protect the brain from cell damage, acai berry extract can protect against the build-up of proteins called beta-amyloids, which clog the brain’s pathways and are involved in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Acai has also been positively linked to the treatment of bipolar disorder.

The acai berry is rich in antioxidants that protect the brain from cell damage. Shutterstock

Helps prevent and fight cancer

In a study of 300 foods, acai berries came top for their high levels of antioxidants, with half a cup containing around 75,000 antioxidant units. Among these are pigments called anthocyanin that not only give acai berries their purple color, but may also help fight cancer cells. In a 2006 study, researchers found that concentrated acai juice triggered a self-destruct response in 86 percent of leukemia cells tested.

Improves digestion

As well as being rich in fiber, which promotes a healthy gut, researchers found that polyphenols in acai can survive most of the digestive process and make it as far as the colon. This means they can promote good gut bacteria, which improves overall digestive health. The acai berry is also said to help in cleansing the digestive system.