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10-01-2011 | Diabetes | Article

Low serum potassium linked to increased Type 2 diabetes risk


Free abstract

MedWire News: Mild to moderately low serum potassium levels that are within the normal range may increase Type 2 diabetes risk in Japanese men, report researchers from the TOPICS program.

"Evidence has suggested that low serum potassium concentrations decrease insulin secretion, leading to glucose intolerance, and that hypokalemia induced by diuretics increases the risk for diabetes in hypertensive individuals," write Hirohito Sone (University of Tsukuba Institute of Clinical Medicine, Ibaraki, Japan) and colleagues.

"However, no prospective study has investigated the association between serum potassium and the development of Type 2 diabetes in a healthy cohort comprised of Asian individuals not being administered antihypertensive medications."

To rectify this, Sone and team followed up a cohort of 4409 Japanese men participating in the Toranomon Hospital Health Management Center Study (TOPICS) for incident diabetes related to baseline potassium level for a period of 5 years. The participants were aged 48.4 years on average and did not have diabetes or hypertension at baseline.

At study completion, 250 men had developed Type 2 diabetes. Being in the lowest baseline tertile of serum potassium (2.8-3.9 mmol/l) was associated with a significant 57% increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes compared with being in the highest tertile (4.2-5.4 mmol/l).

The investigators found that every 0.5 mmol/l lower increment in baseline serum potassium was associated with a 45% increased risk for incident diabetes over the study period.

"Low serum potassium even within the normal range could be predictive of Type 2 diabetes in healthy Japanese men not using antihypertensive medications," comment Sone et al in the journal Diabetologia.

They conclude that further research is required to corroborate and expand on these findings.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Helen Albert

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