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Viagra May Help Prevent Diabetes: Study

Viagra May Help Prevent Diabetes: Study

WASHINGTON:  The anti-impotence drug Viagra may help ward off type 2 diabetes in people at risk for the disorder by improving their insulin sensitivity, a new study has claimed.

The drug sildenafil, sold as Viagra and other brand names, improves insulin sensitivity in people at risk for diabetes, researchers said.

Sildenafil inhibits an enzyme called phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5), resulting in relaxation of smooth muscle, vasodilation and increased blood flow. Sildenafil is used to treat erectile dysfunction and pulmonary arterial hypertension.

Animal studies suggest that sildenafil also can improve insulin sensitivity, the uptake of glucose from the bloodstream by muscle.

This action can lower the level of circulating glucose, and potentially reduce the risk of diabetes, researchers said.

In the current study by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Centre in US, overweight individuals with prediabetes were randomly assigned to receive sildenafil or placebo (inactive drug) for three months.

Of the 42 subjects who completed the study, those treated with sildenafil were significantly more sensitive to insulin, the researchers said.

While further studies are needed to determine whether long-term treatment can prevent the onset of diabetes in high-risk patients, “sildenafil and related drugs could offer a potential avenue for addressing the rising number of diabetes diagnoses,” said Nancy J Brown, chair of the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt.

According to the Endocrine Society, more than 26 million Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, in which the body’s tissues are resistant to insulin, researchers said.

Incidence of the disease, which is associated with obesity, is growing rapidly, they said.

Weight loss and exercise regimens are difficult for many people, and some current medications aimed at preventing diabetes are limited by concerns about adverse effects, Brown said.

Sildenafil and related drugs prevent PDE5 from breaking down a chemical in the body called cyclic GMP, which relaxes blood vessels and increases insulin sensitivity, the researchers said.

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