Pain Reliever Lowers Blood Sugar for Type 2: Study
But side effects of aspirin-like drug warrant further study
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.
Salsalate was also linked to an increase in LDL cholesterol, which is associated with heart disease. "There was a small elevation in LDL cholesterol, and we prefer not to see that, although we can bring it down with [cholesterol-lowering drugs]," he said.
Elevated urinary albumin levels, which can indicate reduced kidney function, were also seen among those taking the drug but albumin levels returned to normal when the drug was stopped, Shoelson said.
No increase in gastrointestinal bleeding was reported in those on salsalate, which had been a concern because the drug is a chemical cousin of aspirin, he added.
At this point, it's premature to recommend the use of salsalate for people with type 2 diabetes, Shoelson said. "I would like to see further clinical trials and studies, and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] likes to see information on cardiovascular and long-term risks," he noted.
Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said he doubts the FDA will approve salsalate for diabetes treatment. "This medication has a lot of limitations and side effects, and it doesn't cause a significant drop in the A1C," said Zonszein.
Diet and exercise could cause many of the reported changes, such as the increase in adiponectin, he said. If this medication were reducing inflammation, significant changes would be seen in highly sensitive C-reactive protein (CRP), and none were noted here, he added.