Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Pain Reliever Lowers Blood Sugar for Type 2: Study

But side effects of aspirin-like drug warrant further study

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Serena Gordon

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- An aspirin-like drug appears to lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes, according to new research.

A study of the drug -- the prescription pain reliever salsalate -- also found it reduced inflammation associated with type 2 diabetes. But it produced unwelcome side effects that could limit its potential as a diabetes treatment.

"This trial is a test of possibly the oldest drug in Western use, and, because it's so old, there are no clinical trials on it," said study senior author Dr. Steven Shoelson, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

"This trial was for a full year and showed that salsalate does lower blood glucose," said Shoelson, who is also the associate research director at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

The study, published in the July 2 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, included 286 people between 18 and 75 years old with type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body no longer produces enough of the hormone insulin to convert carbohydrates from food into fuel for the body.

At the start of the study, the participants' average A1C levels -- a measure of blood sugar levels over several months -- were between 7 and 9.5 percent. The American Diabetes Association generally recommends a level of below 7 percent for adults.

The study volunteers were randomly assigned to 48 weeks of salsalate at a dose of 3.5 grams per day, or to an inactive placebo pill. No other changes were made to current diabetes, blood pressure or cholesterol medications during the first six months of the trial, the researchers noted.

Over 48 weeks, people taking the medication saw their A1C levels drop by 0.37 percent compared to placebo.

Shoelson said that people who have metabolic syndrome -- a group of risk factors (including type 2 diabetes) for cardiovascular disease -- often have higher than normal white blood cell counts, suggesting inflammation. In this study, people on salsalate saw a drop in their white blood cell counts, but Shoelson noted that they were "always well within the normal range."

Improvements were seen in several areas among those taking the drug, including: fasting blood sugar; uric acid, which is a chemical associated with gout; and levels of triglyceride, a type of blood fat. Levels of adiponectin -- a substance related to decreased insulin resistance -- and hematocrit, a measure of red blood cells, also improved for people taking salsalate.

Not all of the changes linked to the drug were beneficial, however. The medication appeared to cause a slight weight gain -- less than 3 pounds compared to those taking the placebo. Many type 2 diabetes medications have weight gain as a side effect, Shoelson said.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Woman holding cake
Slideshow
feet
Slideshow
 
man organizing pills
Slideshow
Close up of eye
Slideshow
 

Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article