Diabetes: We are in it together

January 23, 2014

Living in a household implies sharing duties and responsibilities but it could also imply sharing your diabetes. A research team from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) has shown, through combined analyses of several studies, evidence that spousal diabetes is a diabetes risk factor. These findings, published today in the open access journal BMC Medicine, have important clinical implications since they can help improve diabetes detection and motivate couples to work together to reduce the risk of developing the condition.

"We found a 26% increase in the risk of developing type 2 if your spouse also has ," says senior author of the study, Dr. Kaberi Dasgupta, researcher at the Research Institute of the MUHC and an associate professor of medicine at McGill University. "This may be a platform to assist clinicians to develop strategies to involve both partners. Changing health behaviour is challenging and if you have the collaboration of your partner it's likely to be easier."

Dr. Dasgupta's team, located at the Division of Clinical Epidemiology of the MUHC, wanted to see if diabetes in one partner could lead to diabetes in the other partner because many of the risk behaviours that lead to diabetes, such as poor eating habits and low physical activity, could be shared within a household.

Researchers analyzed results from six selected studies that were conducted in different parts of the world and looked at key outcomes such as age, socioeconomic status and the way in which diabetes was diagnosed in 75,498 couples.

Most of the studies used in the meta analysis relied on health records which may not always accurately record diabetes. Those that used direct blood testing suggested that diabetes risk doubles if your partner has diabetes. A strong correlation with pre-diabetes risk was also found.

"When we look at the health history of patients, we often ask about family history," says Dr. Dasgupta. "Our results suggest spousal history may be another factor we should take in consideration."

According to Dr. Dasgupta, spousal diabetes is also a potential tool for early diabetes detection. "The results of our review suggest that diabetes diagnosis in one spouse may warrant increased surveillance in the other," she says. "Moreover, it has been observed that men are less likely than women to undergo regular medical evaluation after childhood and that can result in delayed diabetes detection. As a result, men living with a spouse with diabetes history may particularly benefit from being followed more closely."

Explore further: Many at risk for diabetes and don't know it, study finds

More information: Spousal diabetes as a diabetes risk factor: A systematic review and meta-analysis, BMC Medicine 2014, 12:12.

Related Stories

Discovery of an early predictor of increased diabetes risk

January 15, 2014

A Montréal research team led by Jennifer Estall at the IRCM discovered that a protein found in muscle tissue may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes later in life. The study's results, published in today's printed ...

Recommended for you

Do germs cause type 1 diabetes?

May 16, 2016

Germs could play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes by triggering the body's immune system to destroy the cells that produce insulin, new research suggests.

Melatonin signaling is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes

May 12, 2016

A sleeping pancreas releases less insulin, but how much insulin drops each night may differ from person to person, suggests a study published May 12, 2016 in Cell Metabolism. Up to 30 percent of the population may be predisposed ...

New gene for familial high cholesterol

May 12, 2016

New research from Denmark reveals the gene that explains one quarter of all familial hypercholesterolemia with very high blood cholesterol. Familial hypercholesterolemia is the most common genetic disorder leading to premature ...

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.