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Diabetes Health Center

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Diet Drug Healthy for Type 2 Diabetes

WebMD Health News

Feb. 28, 2002 -- The diet drug Xenical prolongs life and improves health in people with type 2 diabetes, according to a study sponsored by the drug's manufacturer.

Xenical, as part of a weight-loss program that includes diet and exercise, can help people lose weight. It continues to help for at least two years. In addition to helping people lose weight, the drug can lower the risk of heart disease.

The number of people with type 2 diabetes is increasing throughout the world, says researcher Lieven Annemans, PhD, from the University of Ghent, Belgium, in a news release. "Treatments such as [Xenical], which are valuable in the management of the problem, hopefully will help curb this disturbing trend."

Nearly two-thirds of people with type 2 diabetes are obese. This greatly increases their chances of heart disease and other diabetes-associated problems. Losing weight reduces diabetes symptoms and heart-disease risk. Weight loss also decreases blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

Could Xenical help? To find out, researchers predicted the rate of problems and death from diabetes over a 10-year period. They created a theoretical model that compared people who took Xenical for two years with people who didn't.

Although obese type 2 patients without high blood pressure or high cholesterol definitely had some benefit, the biggest advantage was seen in those with high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

The researchers predicted that Xenical would prolong the life of people with both high blood pressure and high cholesterol by almost half a year.

That might not sound like a lot, but the researchers also found that Xenical could save one life for every 100 people treated during that 10-year period.

Xenical works by preventing the body from absorbing about a third of fats in a person's diet. It must be used in combination with a low-fat, restricted-calorie diet. One of the main side effects is diarrhea. The best way to prevent this side effect is to limit the fat in your diet. Fat that is eaten and doesn't get absorbed due to Xenical causes diarrhea.

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