Decades old drug lowers bloods sugar for patients with type 2 diabetes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
A simple drug related to aspirin could help type 2 diabetics.

People with type 2 diabetes were able to get their blood sugar levels a little lower with the anti-inflammatory drug salsalate that has been around for decades. The drug also has the added benefit of relieving pain and some other health benefits that were previously unknown, in addition potential as a treatment for type 2 diabetes.

Preliminary trials suggest salsalate could be effective for type 2 diabetes

Salsalate, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis pain, is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory that was also used by Ancient Egyptians and is an aspirin relative.

Researcher conducted a year- long study that compared salsalate to placebo. Patients with ype-2 diabetes given the anti-inflammatory were able to lower their HbA1C levels ad their blood sugar levels.

The study included 286 participants with type 2 diabetes whose fasting blood sugar levels dropped by 11 mg/dl over 48 weeks, which in turn, allowed them to reduce their medication doses.

Steven Shoelson, MD, PhD, Associate Director of Research at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Principal Investigator for the study said in a news release, “We now have to determine whether the degree to which this drug lowers blood glucose levels is large enough to warrant using it as an addition to the diabetes drug armamentarium.” He adds the drug is inexpensive and has a long-history of safety.

Additional health benefits


Salsalate had other health benefits besides lowering blood sugar levels, which were related to the drug’s anti-inflammatory effect; found in the blood cell counts that became lower (white blood cells, neutrophils and lymphocyte counts).

The drug also lowered uric acid in the body that causes gout when levels are high. Adiponectin levels went up 21% - a protein that regulates glucose and might help in reversing type 2 diabetes and protecting from heart disease.

Triglyceride levels also dropped, though there was a rise in LDL (bad) cholesterol and minor weight gain. More studies will be needed to find out whether the risks of higher cholesterol outweigh the benefits for the drug.

The aspirin type drug salsalate that is decades old might help people with type 2 diabetes, and could be a potential treatment for the disease. The findings were presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 72nd Scientific Sessions®..

American Diabetes Association
June 11, 2012

“Adiponectin: action, regulation and association to insulin sensitivity”
AS Lihn, B. Richelsen
February, 2005

Image credit: Bing