Married couples share many common traits and habits - if one
spouse smokes, the other often does; if one exercises, so
does the other. Adult-onset diabetes is increasingly being
shown to be based on lifestyle factors, rather than genetic
ones. By examining married
couples - people who are not genetically related but share
many similar habits - an association between diabetes and
its causes may be found.
A recent study in Diabetes Care determined the presence
of adult-onset (type 2) diabetes and high blood sugar in the
spouses of known diabetics attending a specialized clinic.
The 245 spouses in this first group were then compared to
234 spouses of nondiabetic individuals.
People married to diabetics were more than twice as likely
to have diabetes and glucose intolerance themselves than spouses
of people without diabetes. Spouses of diabetics were also
more likely to be obese or overweight and to have high blood
pressure than the healthy individuals' spouses - both risk
factors for the development of type 2 diabetes.
We've long known that if you have a parent or sibling with
diabetes, you are at an increased risk for the condition.
This study shows that lifestyle clearly has a significant
influence on diabetes risk; the increased odds of sharing
diabetes with a family member may be due more to similar habits
than to genetics. To avoid developing type 2 diabetes, maintain
a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and keep your blood
pressure and cholesterol levels in check - and make sure your
significant other does the same.
Khan A, Lasker SS, Chowdhury TA. Are spouses of patients
with type 2 diabetes at increased risk of developing diabetes?
Diabetes Care 2003:26, pp. 710-712.
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