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Sunlight Helps Prevent Diabetes and Obesity, According to a Study by Shelley Gorman and Prue Hart

SYDNEY, Oct. 24, 2014 (Xinhua) --

Moderate exposure to the sun helps prevent obesity and diabetes and is important for good health, an Australian-led study published in the Diabetes journal on Friday revealed.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation slows weight gain and wards off the symptoms of diabetes, such as abnormal glucose levels and insulin resistance, the study found.

The researchers conducted experiments on mice and found that the benefits of sunlight's UV rays are caused by nitric oxide, which is triggered by sunlight.

Australian researcher Prue Hart, of the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, said the long-term benefits of exposure to the sun are very strong and melanoma was rare.

She said the mice had been subjected to low dose UV three times a week, suggesting the benefits could be obtained by sensible, moderate sun exposure.

"There is growing obesity because children are being given high- fat diets. Here is a simple way of reducing that pathway to obesity, poor metabolic health and ultimately diabetes," she told the Australian newspaper.

Hart said vitamin D and supplements could not compensate for natural sunlight.

Lead author Shelley Gorman, a Telethon Institute macrobiologist, said the new findings suggest that casual skin exposure to sunlight, together with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet, may help prevent the development of obesity in children.

Editor: An

Scientists discover "good" fat that fights diabetes

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2014 (Xinhua) --

U.S. researchers said they have discovered a previously unidentified class of "good" fats produced in the human body that may protect against diabetes.

Giving these lipids, called fatty acid hydroxy fatty acids ( FAHFAs), to mice with the equivalent of type 2 diabetes lowered their elevated blood sugar, researchers at the Salk Institute and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) reported in the U.S. journal Cell.

The team also found that the new molecules are low in humans with a high risk for diabetes and are much higher in mice resistant to diabetes, suggesting that they could potentially be utilized as a therapy for metabolic disorders. "We were blown away to discover this completely new class of molecules," senior author Barbara Kahn, vice chair of the Department of Medicine at the BIDMC, said in a statement.

"Based on their biology, we can add FAHFAs to the small list of beneficial lipids," said co-author Alan Saghatelian, professor in the Clayton Foundation Laboratories for Peptide Biology at the Salk Institute.

Lipids, like cholesterol, are typically associated with poor health. But in recent years, researchers have discovered that not all lipids are bad for you, such as the much touted omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish oils.

FAHFAs had not been noticed previously in cells and tissues because they are present in low concentrations, making them difficult to detect.

In the new study, the researchers engineered mice to have more of a sugar transporter, called Glut4, in their fat because people with low levels of this transporter are prone to developing diabetes.

They were surprised to notice more fatty acid synthesis in mice that had improved insulin activity and thereby were less likely to develop diabetes.

"While many of the other lipids were essentially the same between normal mice and these diabetes-resistant mice, we saw these FAHFA lipids elevated by 16 fold in mice that were resistant to diabetes, standing out really clearly as a big change," said Kahn.

Further research showed that when the mice eat FAHFAs, blood sugar levels dropped and insulin levels rose, indicating the potential therapeutic value of FAHFAs.

To determine whether FAHFAs are also relevant in humans, the team measured FAHFA levels in humans who are insulin-resistant, a condition which is often a precursor to diabetes, and found that their FAHFA levels were lower in fat and blood, suggesting that changes in FAHFA levels may contribute to diabetes.

Unlike omega-3 fatty acids, which are not made in mammals, FAHFAs are actually produced and broken down inside the human body.

"This important feature gives FAHFAs an advantage in terms of therapeutic development because we can potentially modify the rate of production and breakdown throughout the body," said Kahn.

"Because we can measure FAHFA levels in blood, low levels may turn out to be an early marker for the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Consequently, if restoring FAHFA levels in insulin resistant individuals proves to be therapeutic, we may potentially be able to intervene before the development of frank diabetes."

In addition, these novel lipids can also reduce inflammation, suggesting that these molecules may be used to treat inflammatory diseases, such as Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as diabetes, the team added.

Editor: Mu Xuequan



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