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Approved Research

Dietary supplement use among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus

Principal Investigator: Miss Rong Hua
Approved Research ID: 97004
Approval date: March 22nd 2023

Lay summary

The global number of people living with diabetes is projected to 783.2 million by 2045. Other than anti-diabetic medications, patients with diabetes might also use complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) to help to manage their conditions. Among the wide range of CAM products, dietary supplements are popular among patients, as most supplement products have a good safety profile and are easily accessible and affordable. Nearly 54% US adults with diabetes were found to currently take at least one dietary supplement. However, the effectiveness and safety of dietary supplement use in patients with diabetes remains controversial. A few trials have suggested the benefits of several vitamins and minerals on glucose and lipid control. However, the evidence from trials might not be well extrapolated to real-world settings, where people often use multiple types of supplements for prolonged time. Besides, previous observational studies were also limited to single type of vitamins or mineral supplements, and paid less attention to herbal (such as garlic, ginkgo and St. John's wort) and other supplements (such as chondroitin, fish oil and glucosamine). While studies in the general population and other diseases like cancers have yielded inconsistent results, less is known about the diabetic population. Moreover, the concomitant use of Western medications and CAM products might put patients at risk of harmful drug-supplement interactions. Considering the consequence of drug-supplement interactions will help us better understand the outcomes of supplement use, and generate personalised recommendations in clinical practice.

Leveraging the abundant data from UK Biobank, we aim to draw a comprehensive picture on dietary supplement use and multiple health outcomes in patients with diabetes. In this study, we will 1) describe the prevalence and pattern of supplement use among patients with diabetes; 2) identify factors (demographics, socioeconomic, lifestyle and medical) associated with supplement use among patients with diabetes; 3) examine longitudinal associations of supplement use with multiple health outcomes among patients with diabetes, the effects of drug-supplement interactions on health outcomes will also be explored. The study is expected to last for 3 years.

Leveraging the large-scale and well characterized real-world data in the UK Biobank, this study can potentially provide future directions for research in incorporating dietary supplement into diabetes care and management to improve the quality of life of patients with diabetes. It will also help to formulate evidence-based suggestions for patients and healthcare providers regarding the effectiveness and safety of dietary supplement.