March 15, 2010 -- A common pain reliever may help people with type 2
diabetes control their blood
A preliminary study shows salsalate reduced blood sugar levels and helped
with glycemic control at a variety of doses in people with type 2
diabetes. However, it also has been shown to increase protein in the urine
and its long-term safety will need further investigation.
Like aspirin, salsalate is an anti-inflammatory drug derived from salicylate
and is often used to treat arthritis. Researchers say the first reports of
salicylate-based drugs aiding in the treatment of diabetes were published more
than a century ago.
More recently, inflammation has been implicated in development of the
insulin resistance that leads to elevated blood sugar levels associated with
type 2 diabetes. Aspirin has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels, but
the high doses required are associated with a risk of bleeding, which limits
That prompted researchers to take another look at salsalate in reducing
blood sugar levels. Salsalate contains the same active ingredient as aspirin
but is associated with fewer side effects.
In the study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine,
researchers randomly assigned 108 people with type 2 diabetes to receive 3,
3.5, or 4 grams per day of salsalate or a placebo in addition to their current
diabetes therapy for 14 weeks.
The results showed those who took salsalate at each of the dosage levels
experienced a beneficial decrease in blood sugar A1c levels of 0.5% or more.
Other markers of glycemic control and heart
disease risk also improved in the three salsalate groups compared with the
placebo group. No single dose of salsalate seemed safer or more effective than
Although only minor side effects of salsalate use were reported, researchers
say salsalate users tended to develop more protein in their urine. Elevated
protein levels in the urine may indicate negative effects on kidney
Due to the small size of the study and short follow-up time, researchers say
it's too soon to recommend use of salsalate for the treatment of type 2
diabetes. But the results do merit further research.
"Because of salsalate's anti-inflammatory effects, our results suggest that
inflammation plays a role in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes and that
anti-inflammatory therapy may be useful for treating
diabetes," write researchers Allison B. Goldfine, MD, of the Joslin
Diabetes Center in Boston, and colleagues. "We are conducting a larger trial
involving more patients with type 2 diabetes to further establish whether a
salsalate dosage of 3.5g/day provides durable and safe control of blood glucose
in this population."
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