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Study indicates mushrooms may help diabetics

UB researchers were initially studying how Vitamin D may boost muscle strength in older when they stumbled onto indications of how mushrooms may help control sugar in diabetics.

Researchers acknowledge their findings are preliminary. They aren't sure what is helping control glucose levels in diabetics who have been eating portabella mushrooms. Attention will next focus on how shiitake mushrooms affects glucose levels.

The leader of the study is Associate Professor Peter Horvath in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences in the School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Done in collaboration with Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the study was working on mushrooms because they are considered to have high levels of vitamins D2 and D3 which apparently help muscle strength. Researchers then observed the effect on glucose levels.

"There didn't seem to be an insulin interaction, seemed to be working on a different mechanism than insulin," said Horvath, who warned that it's way too early to draw any conclusions on this "serendipitous" result.

Horvath says none of the people receiving the large doses of glucose were diabetic because that was barred by the rules controlling the study since that potentially causes problems for them. However, that would probably be the next study, to see the effect of a diabetic eating mushrooms and then being given doses of glucose.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.