I hear there’s a clinic in Canada that can medically cure type II diabetes without bariatric surgery. I was diagnosed two years ago. Is this true?
William T., Bozeman, Mont.
It’s almost true. Because type II is a chronic disease, when you have the disease down and out for the count, it’s referred to as being in remission, not cured; the reasoning is, it could come back. That said, a group of researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, achieved a three-month remission of type II diabetes for 40 percent of the people in one of their trial groups.
The Trial: Eighty-three volunteers with type II diabetes were divided into three groups: For 16 weeks, members of one group received intense, personalized intervention, including an individual exercise routine, a meal plan cutting food intake by 500-750 calories daily and treatment with metformin, acarbose (an oral alpha-glucosidase inhibitor that lowers blood glucose) and insulin glargine.
They also saw a nurse and dietitian regularly.
The second group received the same treatment for eight weeks. And the third (control) group received standard blood sugar management and health advice.
The results: At the end of the trial, participants in the two intensive-treatment groups discontinued their medications. In the 16-week intervention group, 11 of 27 participants showed complete or partial diabetes remission three months later. In the eight-week intervention group, six of 28 saw those results. But remember, this is a trial, not an accepted therapeutic approach.
There are solutions, however: Dr. Mike has demonstrated at his Wellness Institute and through online e-coaching programs that regular physical activity, avoiding the Five Food Felons, losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight and taking prescribed medications can reverse type II diabetes in over half of participants with early type II diabetes or prediabetes.
This Canadian study also demonstrates that with hard work, William, you can defeat your diabetes. We hope you’re successful.
I’ve developed age-related macular degeneration. Are stem cell treatments a viable option?
Gladys G., Miami
Stem cell treatments for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are not ready for prime time.
In 2014, a small study looked at using pluripotent stem cell therapy for dry AMD and found that it might be viable. The first stem cell clinical trial for wet macular degeneration was launched in 2015. A 2016 study in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science concluded: “Stem cell-based therapies for non-neovascular AMD are emerging and several clinical trials are in progress. However, there are major regulatory, safety and technical challenges that remain.”
Why should you be wary? The New England Journal of Medicine reports on three women who received stem cell therapy for AMD at a clinic in Florida. Two of them checked listings of clinical trials on the website www.clinicaltrial.gov. They “enrolled” in the Study to Assess the Safety and Effects of Cells Injected Intravitreal in Dry Macular Degeneration.
The sponsor was one of hundreds of unregulated for-profit stem cell-therapy centers in the U.S. The third woman went directly to the company for treatment. Their outcomes were horrifying.
The facility charged each woman $5,000. (Red flag! Legitimate clinical trials NEVER ask for payment.) The company’s staff then injected stem cells made from each woman’s fat cells into her eyes. One woman went completely blind and two are virtually blind.
How do you know if a clinical trial is legit? It should be conducted by a reputable NOT-FOR-PROFIT research center or hospital/medical center and be free.
How do you know if a stem cell treatment is legit? Ask centers of medical excellence, like the Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute or the Harkness Eye Institute/CUMC, if they offer such treatments. If they don’t, you shouldn’t get them elsewhere.
Even some stem cell treatment businesses know they’re unreliable. Here’s a disclaimer we found on the internet: “All claims made regarding the efficacy of … treatments … are based solely on anecdotal support collected by [the company].” In other words, no scientific evidence backs up their claims.
Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Mike Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To submit questions, write to Drs. Oz and Roizen, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019-5238, or visit sharecare.com. Their column appears Monday.