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Hunger, Genetics, and Type 2 Risk

The taste and aroma of food do more than simply titillate the senses: They spur the body to produce insulin even before food is digested. Now a study has found that the body's response to the sensory side of a meal appears to be in part genetic and may have a link to type 2 diabetes. Blocking a particular gene in mice reduced how much insulin they churned out while eating, raising their blood glucose levels. This led researchers to suspect that if this gene is defective, the link between food cues and insulin production breaks down. In humans, a mutated (and potentially dysfunctional) version of the same gene is more common in people with type 2 than in those who don't have the disease. Future research will try to tease out how an impaired response to food may lead to type 2 and what can be done to fix the problem.
Source: Science Signaling, published online March 11, 2010



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