New insight into reducing racial/ethnic disparities in diabetes

September 17, 2013

Despite higher rates of diabetes in black and Hispanic women, the rate at which women die of diabetes-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer is the same for all postmenopausal women, regardless of race or ethnicity, according to a new UMass Medical School study.

Lead author Yunsheng Ma, MD, PhD, MPH, associate professor of medicine, concludes that the way to reduce high -related among all —including black and Hispanic women—is through prevention of diabetes. This is particularly important, since much remains unknown concerning the total balance of risks and benefits of the antihyperglycemic medications in aging women, particularly those who are either in or of advanced age( older than 75). The research will be published online in the American Journal of Epidemiology on Sept. 16.

"Although the probability of dying conditioned upon diabetes did not differ significantly by racial/ethnic group, the percentages of women with prevalent or incident diabetes were significantly different by race," said Dr. Ma. The disparity in diabetes rates is stark: 27.1 percent for blacks, 20.8 percent for Hispanics, 15.9 percent for Asians and 11.7 percent for whites.

The study analyzed data from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a landmark research endeavor that enrolled 161,808 women in clinical trials and 93,676 in an observational study between 1993 and 1998, with ongoing follow up through 2009. The WHI is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Ma and colleagues compared all-cause, cardiovascular and in white, black, Hispanic and Asian postmenopausal women with and without diabetes. Regardless of race or ethnicity, all the women with diabetes had a two-to-three times higher mortality risk for these diseases compared to women without diabetes. It is important to note that WHI is not a of all postmenopausal women across the U.S., but rather women interested in participating in a study and, as such, represents a more educated sample of women with high rates of access to health care.

This study is the first to show that is not significantly different between racial or ethnic subgroups according to diabetes status. However, since rates of diabetes for minorities, especially black and Hispanic women, are considerably higher than for whites and Asians, more minority women die as a result of diabetes.

"Because of the 'amplifying' effect of diabetes prevalence, efforts to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in diabetes mortality should focus on prevention of type 2 diabetes," added Ma.

"We and other researchers have shown that 80 to 90 percent of diabetes cases may be preventable by lifestyle modifications, such as being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight and having a healthful diet," said JoAnn Manson, MD, of Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, a WHI investigator and a co-author of the study. "This seems to be true across all racial/ethnic groups."

Of 158,833 women included in the analyses, the average age was 63 years; 84.1 percent were white; 9.2 percent were black; 4.1 percent were Hispanic; and 2.6 percent were Asian. In general, the women with diabetes had higher body mass index, worse dietary habits, were less active and had more medical conditions, including hypertension and high cholesterol, compared to women not reporting diabetes.

"Rather than emphasizing aggressive use of anti-diabetic medications in postmenopausal minority , we should focus on educating them about preventing diabetes," Ma concluded.

Explore further: Diabetes linked to lung cancer in postmenopausal women

Related Stories

Diabetes linked to lung cancer in postmenopausal women

May 30, 2012

(HealthDay) -- Postmenopausal women with diabetes are at a significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer, particularly if they require insulin therapy, according to research published online May 22 in Diabetes Care.

BMI thresholds for gestational diabetes differ by race

June 1, 2012

(HealthDay) -- There is considerable racial/ethnic variation in the prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) by body mass index (BMI), according to a study published online May 22 in Diabetes Care.

Racial disparity in diabetes mostly due to lifestyle

July 27, 2012

(HealthDay) -- For postmenopausal women there are large racial/ethnic differences in diabetes incidence, but these are mostly attributable to lifestyle factors, according to a study published online July 25 in Diabetes Care.

Smoking cessation, weight gain, and subsequent CHD risk

July 2, 2013

The authors used data from the Women's Health Initiative to assess the association between smoking cessation, weight gain, and subsequent coronary heart disease risk among postmenopausal women with and without diabetes.

Recommended for you

Engineered hot fat implants reduce weight gain in mice

August 20, 2015

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed a novel way to engineer the growth and expansion of energy-burning "good" fat, and then found that this fat helped reduce weight gain and lower blood glucose ...

Promising progress for new treatment of type 1 diabetes

July 30, 2015

New research from Uppsala University shows promising progress in the use of anti-inflammatory cytokine for treatment of type 1 diabetes. The study, published in the open access journal Scientific Reports, reveals that administration ...

Bacteria may cause type 2 diabetes

June 1, 2015

Bacteria and viruses have an obvious role in causing infectious diseases, but microbes have also been identified as the surprising cause of other illnesses, including cervical cancer (Human papilloma virus) and stomach ulcers ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.