Rev Diabet Stud, 2014, 11(2):138-152 DOI 10.1900/RDS.2014.11.138

The HbA1c and All-Cause Mortality Relationship in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes is J-Shaped: A Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies

Luke W. Arnold, Zhiqiang Wang

Centre for Chronic Disease, The University of Queensland School of Medicine, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Herston QLD 4029, Australia
Address correspondence to: Luke W. Arnold, e-mail:


BACKGROUND: Low blood glucose and HbA1c levels are recommended in the literature on management of diabetes. However, data have shown that low blood glucose is associated with serious adverse effects for the patients and the recommendation has been criticized. Therefore, this article revisits the relationship between HbA1c and all-cause mortality by a meta-analysis of observational studies. AIM: The aim of this study is to determine whether there is a J- or U-shaped non-linear relationship between HbA1c and all-cause mortality in type 2 diabetes patients, implying an increased risk to premature all-cause mortality at high and low levels of HbA1c. METHODS: A comprehensive literature search was conducted using PubMed, Medline, and Cochrane Library databases with strict inclusion/exclusion criteria. The published adjusted hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals of all-cause mortality for each HbA1c category and per study were analyzed. Fractional polynomial regression was used with random effect modeling to assess the non-linear relationship of the HR trends between studies. Seven eligible observational studies with a total of 147,424 participants were included in the study. RESULTS: A significant J-shaped relationship was observed between HbA1c and all-cause mortality. Crude relative risk for all-cause mortality identified a decreased risk per 1% increase in HbA1c below 7.5% (58 mmol/mol) (0.90, CI 0.86-0.94) and an increased risk per 1% increase in HbA1c above 7.5% (58 mmol/mol) (1.04, CI 1.01-1.06). Observational studies revealed a J-shaped relationship between HbA1c and all-cause mortality, equivalent to an increased risk of mortality at high and low HbA1c levels. CONCLUSIONS: This increased mortality at high and low HbA1c levels has significant implications on investigating optimum clinical HbA1c targets as it suggests that there are upper and lower limits for creating a 'security zone' for diabetes management.

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Rev Diabet Stud, 2014, 11(2):153-166 DOI 10.1900/RDS.2014.11.153

Effects of Dairy Protein and Fat on the Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes

Ann Bjørnshave, Kjeld Hermansen

Department of Endocrinology and Internal Medicine, Aarhus University Hospital, Tage-Hansens Gade 2, 8000 Aarhus C., Denmark
Address correspondence to: Ann Bjørnshave, e-mail:


The incidence of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) and type 2 diabetes (T2D) is increasing worldwide. Evidence supports a negative relationship between the consumption of dairy products and risk of MetS and T2D. Dairy proteins are known to have a directly beneficial effect on hypertension, dyslipidemia, and hyperglycemia, but a detailed understanding of the underlying mechanisms is missing. It has been confirmed by observations that the insulinotropic effect of dairy proteins is associated with the amino acid composition; in particular branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) seem to be of vital importance. Dairy protein-derived peptides may also contribute to the insulinotropic effect via dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitory activity, and may lower the blood pressure (BP). The lipid metabolism may be improved by whey protein (WP), which acts to reduce the postprandial triglyceride (TG) response. The effect of dairy fat is much more controversial because of the potentially harmful effect exerted by saturated fatty acid (SFA) on metabolic health. Recent observations suggest less adverse effects of SFA on metabolic health than previous assumed. However, little is known about dairy lipid fractions belonging to the groups of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and phospholipids (PL). Dairy fat seems to act differently depending on the dairy product and the composition of macronutrients in the meal. Therefore, for a better understanding of the mechanisms behind the dairy protein and fat effect on MetS, we suggest that more human studies should be carried out to clarify the interactions of dairy protein and fat with macronutrients in the meal and other dairy components, such as micronutrients and microorganisms from fermented products.

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Rev Diabet Stud, 2014, 11(2):167-174 DOI 10.1900/RDS.2014.11.167

The Therapeutic Potential of Milk Thistle in Diabetes

Christos E. Kazazis1, Angelos A. Evangelopoulos2, Aris Kollas3, Natalia G. Vallianou3

1School of Medicine, University of Leicester, University Rd, Leicester, LE1 9HN, UK
2Roche Diagnostics Hellas, 15125 Maroussi, Athens, Greece
3First Department of Internal Medicine, Evangelismos General Hospital, 10676 Athens, Greece
Address correspondence to: Natalia G. Vallianou, e-mail:


Milk thistle has been known for more than 2.000 years as a herbal remedy for a variety of disorders. It has mainly been used to treat liver and gallbladder diseases. Silibum marianum, the Latin term for the plant, and its seeds contain a whole family of natural compounds, called flavonolignans. Silimarin is a dry mixture of these compounds; it is extracted after processing with ethanol, methanol, and acetone. Silimarin contains mainly silibin A, silibin B, taxifolin, isosilibin A, isosilibin B, silichristin A, silidianin, and other compounds in smaller concentrations. Apart from its use in liver and gallbladder disorders, milk thistle has recently gained attention due to its hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic properties. Recently, a substance from milk thistle has been shown to possess peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) agonist properties. PPARγ is the molecular target of thiazolidinediones, which are used clinically as insulin sensitizers to lower blood glucose levels in diabetes type 2 patients. The thiazolidinedione type of PPARγ ligands is an agonist with a very high binding affinity. However, this ligand type demonstrates a range of undesirable side effects, thus necessitating the search for new effective PPARγ agonists. Interestingly, studies indicate that partial agonism of PPARγ induces promising activity patterns by retaining the positive effects attributed to the full agonists, with reduced side effects. In this review, the therapeutic potential of milk thistle in the management of diabetes and its complications are discussed.

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