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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Will a Urine Test Predict Obesity?

Urine analysis has long played an important role in diagnosing disease. As most of you may know, the term diabetes mellitus actually refers to the honey-like sweetness of the excessive urine produced by patients with this disorder.

Now Elaine Holmes and colleagues from the Imperial College London, UK, take urine diagnostics to new heights in a recent paper published in Nature.

Holmes and colleagues used a large-scale exploratory analytical approach, based on (1)H NMR spectroscopy, to anlayse the metabolic spectra from two 24-hour urine specimens for each of 4,630 participants from the INTERMAP epidemiological study, involving 17 population samples aged 40-59 in China, Japan, UK and USA.

The metabolic phenotypes are the products of interactions among a variety of factors-dietary, other lifestyle/environmental, gut microbial and genetics.

They were able to show that urinary metabolite excretion patterns for East Asian and western population samples, with contrasting diets, diet-related major risk factors, and coronary heart disease/stroke rates, are significantly differentiated, as are Chinese/Japanese metabolic phenotypes, and subgroups with differences in dietary vegetable/animal protein and blood pressure.

The authors go on to speculate that mean 24-hour urinary excretion of various metabolites, may not only reflect diet and gut microbial activities, but may also help discover novel biomarkers related to cardiovascular disease risk factors including obesity.

Can't wait to see how long it will take before I see a urinal replacing my bathroom scale.

Edmonton, Alberta

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