-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Jan. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new study points to
a possible added risk factor for type 2 diabetes: a wedding
The Canadian review of data on more than 75,000 couples
worldwide found that being married to someone with diabetes is
linked to a higher risk that you'll develop the disease
"The results of this study confirm that married couples share not only bank accounts and household chores, but also type 2 diabetes," said one expert not connected to the study, Christopher Ochner, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. "This is not to say that an individual will definitely get type 2 diabetes if their partner has it, but they are at a significantly increased risk," he added.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, type 2 diabetes is by far the most common form of the
blood sugar disease, affecting about 90 percent to 95 percent of
people with the illness. It is often associated with increased
weight gain and obesity.
In their research, a team at McGill University Health Centre in
Montreal reviewed six studies conducted around the world. They
found that the spouses of people with type 2 diabetes had a 26
percent higher risk of developing the disease, and also had a
higher risk for pre-diabetes.
Many risk factors for diabetes, such as lack of exercise and
poor eating habits, can be shared by people in the same household,
the researchers noted.
The study authors also believe their finding could help improve
diabetes detection and motivate couples to work together to reduce
the risk of developing the disease.
"The results of our review suggest that diabetes diagnosis in one spouse may warrant increased surveillance in the other," study senior author Dr. Kaberi Dasgupta, a researcher at the health center and an associate professor of medicine at the university, said in a McGill news release.
"Men are less likely than women to undergo regular medical evaluation after childhood and that can result in delayed diabetes detection," she added. "As a result, men living with a spouse with diabetes history may particularly benefit from being followed more closely."
Ochner and other experts agreed that the findings make
"Couples typically share household food so, what one eats, the other typically eats also," Ochner said. "Couples also tend to do physical activity together so, the more active one is, the more active the other may be."
Virginia Peragallo-Dittko is executive director of the Diabetes
and Obesity Institute at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola,
N.Y. She said that the study did not determine one key factor: Do
people prone to type 2 diabetes end up marrying people with similar
The study "did not identify if the spouse of the person with
diabetes had biologically related family members with diabetes,"
she pointed out. "So the message isn't that you can 'catch'
diabetes from your partner. Instead the message is, if you both
engage in unhealthy eating patterns and physical inactivity, the
partner without diabetes has a high risk for developing
Dr. Spyros Mezitis, an endocrinologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in
New York City, added that the study points to the role spouses can
play in diabetes prevention and care. "The spouses of diabetics may
become involved in their loved one's diabetic management and
prevent from becoming diabetics themselves," he pointed out.
Like Peragallo-Dittko, Ochner stressed that the study could only
find an association between having a diabetic spouse and a higher
risk for type 2 diabetes -- it could not prove cause and effect.
"It is possible that more health-conscious individuals tend to
marry more health-conscious individuals and vice versa," he said.
"The same may be said about physical activity -- more active
individuals tend to marry active individuals."
However, he agreed that "it makes sense from a clinical
perspective to more closely monitor pre-diabetic spouses of
individuals with diabetes."
The study was published Jan. 23 in
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases has more about
diabetes risk and prevention.
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