Study: Pancreatic fat levels may help predict diabetes

9/23/2009

DALLAS Measuring fat deposits in the pancreas could one day become a way to identify people at risk for developing diabetes, researchers found.

Scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center used magnetic resonance spectroscopy – a noninvasive procedure commonly used in epilepsy and breast cancer patients – to measure fat deposits in the pancreas in overweight people. Researchers have long suspected that overweight people have large fat deposits in their pancreases, but because of the organ’s location, they previously had been unable to confirm it.

“These are very early results, but if they hold true, pancreatic MRS would be a fast and non-invasive test to screen people at risk for diabetes either because they’re obese or they have a family history of Type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome,” lead researcher and assistant professor of internal medicine Ildiko Lingvay said in a statement. “It could potentially tell physicians which patients are most likely to develop diabetes in the near future and thus are in need of more aggressive interventions.”

The study appears online on the university’s Web site and will appear in an unspecified future issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

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