In the past few decades, more information has come to light about the role of viruses and bacteria in the development of certain diseases. Now researchers have been able to create type 2 diabetes (T2D) in lab animals just by exposing them to this skin superbug. If you, or a loved one, have type 2 diabetes, you’ll want to know about these new findings…
Targeting A Skin Superbug Could Prevent/Treat Type 2 Diabetes
In the last few decades, medical researchers have learned that cervical cancer is actually caused by certain strains of the human papilloma virus. Stomach ulcers are now known to be caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Eczema, the chronic, itching, inflamed skin condition, is also now believed to develop from a chronic staph infestation.
Now, researchers out of the University of Iowa’s Health Care department believe they’ve found the real cause for type 2 diabetes. In a study they recently did, they actually “created” type 2 diabetes in lab animals. They did this by exposing them to Staph aureus, a bacteria that commonly resides on your skin.
Their results point to the idea that type 2 diabetes may actually develop from exposure to the by- product toxin that Staph aureus creates. The finding has opened new doors into how to prevent and treat type 2 diabetes, possibly even curing it.
In their study, the researchers exposed lab animals to the toxin given off by Staphylococcus aureus. Amazingly, the animals developed the characteristic signs of type 2 diabetes that include:
• Insulin resistance
• Glucose intolerance
• Systemic inflammation
Obesity has always been a high risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. So, do the results of this study mean that obesity is no longer the real culprit of type 2 diabetes? No. On the contrary, the study has shown why obesity is a such an important risk factor.
People who are obese are also found to be highly colonized with skin Staph aureus bacteria. This means that they are constantly exposed to the toxin that Staph aureus gives off, the same one the lab animals were exposed to. This toxin reacts with fat cells to create a high level of inflammation throughout the body. As a result, insulin resistance occurs.
In turn, insulin resistance makes it very difficult for the body to use glucose in a normal manner. As a result, type 2 diabetes develops. To further test their findings, the researchers also tested the skin of people with type 2 diabetes. They found their skin to be, as they surmised, with high levels of Staph aureus, equivalent to the amount of toxin their lab animals were exposed to.
Don’t forget, your skin is your body’s largest organ. So, if it’s got a high level of Staph aureus living in it, you’re going to be exposed to a large amount of its by product toxin. This toxin directly affects the immune system. It’s the same toxin responsible for toxic shock syndrome that came to light in women leaving vaginal tampons in too long. It’s also responsible for systemic sepsis (blood poisoning) and endocarditis, an inflammation of cardiac tissues.
MRSA (methicillin resistant Staph aureus) bug can rarely also be the culprit that causes a deadly “flesh-eating” condition in some patients. Most MRSA infections, however, just cause very difficult to treat infections that are resistant to many antibiotics.
MRSA infections, in the last decade, have become more and more prevalent. This is mostly due to more and more people taking antibiotics and not finishing the entire course of them. The bacteria are then able to reproduce in a stronger, more resistant form that many known antibiotics are ineffective against.
As a result of their study findings, the UI team is working on a vaccine to counter this Staph aureus toxin. Since skin Staph aureus contact commonly occurs, and is hard to prevent, targeting the toxin through a vaccine is thought to be more effective. But, they are also working on a skin gel that kills Staph aureus as well. They’re hopeful that the gel may even help lower blood sugar levels of type 2 diabetics and become an additional treatment for it.
How To Protect Yourself
Practicing good skin hygiene, as well as keeping a normal weight, will help prevent both type 2 diabetes and Staph aureus infections. As far as your skin goes, here are some things to keep in mind:
• Wash your hands frequently, especially after being in public and touching any community shared surfaces. A hand sanitizer will also work. You’d be surprised how many times you raise your hands to your face throughout the day. Staph germs on your hands and fingers can easily enter your body through your mouth and nose.
• If you cut, or scrape, yourself, thoroughly wash the wound with an antibacterial wash or just plain soap and hot water. Use a good skin triple antibiotic cream, like Neosporin or the like, and keep the area covered until it heals.
• Stay away from other people’s skin wounds.
• Don’t share personal skin grooming devices like tweezers, razors, hair removers, cosmetics, etc.
• If you need to take antibiotics for any reason, be sure to take the entire course of them.
• Keep your nutrition up. Research has shown that diets high in junk foods and refined sugar may promote Staph aureus (and other bacterial) infections.
It may be in the near future we’ll be able to prevent, and/or better treat, type 2 diabetes by decreasing skin levels of Staph aureus and its toxin. Until then, observing good skin hygiene, watching your diet, exercising regularly, and keeping a normal weight can help.