Two decades of biomedical and dental detective work have linked obesity, diabetes, and periodontal (gum) disease.

A triangular relationship – Obesity can intensify infections, such as periodontal (gum) disease, cytokines produced by fat cells are known to trigger insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes is known to increase the risk for periodontal disease.  New research suggests that periodontal disease can effect a diabetic patient’s ability to control blood sugar levels.

The three-way street
Two decades of biomedical and dental detective work have linked obesity, diabetes and periodontal disease
B Y ROBERT J . GENCO
Article by Robert Genco, Scientific American “Oral and Whole Body Health”, pages 18-22.

In the early 1960s, researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) journeyed to the parched desert lands of the Gila River Indian Community in central Arizona to study the health of the Pima

Indians. In the course of routine medical exams, they made a startling discovery: the Pima people proved to be fatter than any other group of people on Earth except for the Pacifi c Nauru islanders. Nearly half of those over the age of 35 had type 2, or adult-onset diabetes, eight times the national average. In order to survive in the desert, it seems that their thrifty genes may have evolved to carefully conserve fat through times of drought and famine. After World War II, when the tribe changed their traditional diet to an American one, their fat intake rose from about 15 percent to a whopping 40 percent of calories—and their genetic evolution backfi red.

The Three Way Street

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the three way street

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