Gene Expression

Brown people are susceptible to diabetes

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In medical news which won’t be surprising to anyone, Ethnic Variation in Fat and Lean Body Mass and the Association with Insulin Resistance:

Objective: Our objective was to compare total body fat to lean mass ratio (F:LM) in Aboriginal, Chinese, European, and South Asian individuals with differences in insulin resistance.

Results: After adjustment for confounders and at a given body fat, South Asian men had less lean mass than Aboriginal [3.42 kg less; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.55-5.29], Chinese (3.01 kg less; 95% CI = 1.33-4.70), and European (3.57 kg less; 95% CI = 1.82-5.33) men, whereas South Asian women had less lean mass than Aboriginal (1.98 kg less; 95% CI = 0.45-3.50), Chinese (2.24 kg less; 95% CI = 0.81-3.68), and European (2.97 kg less; 95% CI = 1.67-4.27) women. In adjusted models, F:LM was higher in South Asian compared with Chinese and European men and higher in South Asian compared with Aboriginal, Chinese, and European women (P < 0.01 for all). Insulin and HOMA were greatest in South Asians after adjustment; however, these differences were no longer apparent when F:LM was considered.

Conclusions: South Asians have a phenotype of high fat mass and low lean mass, which may account for greater levels of insulin and HOMA compared with other ethnic groups.

HOMA = homeostatic model assessment, used to quantify insulin resistance and beta-cell function. The second bolded part is important, you can change your fat to lean mass ratio. Change what you eat, and exercise. I’ve seen data from England, where there are large numbers of Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, that the latter are in a higher risk category than the former when it comes to adult onset diabetes.

Update: A comment:

Minor quibble: Please be so kind as to use the term ‘type 2 diabetes’ in the future.

A large amount of type 1 diabetics get the disease in adulthood and these results have zero relevance for them or that disease.

It’s incidentally (now that we are splitting hairs…) also incorrect to use the term IDDM (insulin dependent diabetes mellitus) as a shorthand for type 1 diabetes, which is something you often see people do without thinking. A recent Danish study found that half of all type 2 diabetes patients will need insulin treatment within 6 years of diagnosis, which probably means that a majority of all insulin-dependent diabetics are type 2 patients, considering that they make out the great majority of all diabetics (in DK, 80-90% of all diabetics have type 2 diabetes).

Comments

  1. #1 US
    November 24, 2009

    Minor quibble: Please be so kind as to use the term ‘type 2 diabetes’ in the future.

    A large amount of type 1 diabetics get the disease in adulthood and these results have zero relevance for them or that disease.

    It’s incidentally (now that we are splitting hairs…) also incorrect to use the term IDDM (insulin dependent diabetes mellitus) as a shorthand for type 1 diabetes, which is something you often see people do without thinking. A recent Danish study found that half of all type 2 diabetes patients will need insulin treatment within 6 years of diagnosis, which probably means that a majority of all insulin-dependent diabetics are type 2 patients, considering that they make out the great majority of all diabetics (in DK, 80-90% of all diabetics have type 2 diabetes).

  2. #2 agnostic
    November 24, 2009

    “South Asians have a phenotype of high fat mass and low lean mass, which may account for greater levels of insulin and HOMA compared with other ethnic groups.”

    Other way around — high insulin drives fat into fat cells rather than being burned as fuel, and insulin resistance worsens this because it makes the pancreas produce even more insulin than before.

  3. #3 bioIgnoramus
    November 24, 2009

    If brown people are more prone to diabetes, the epidemiological principles encompassed by the expression “risk factor” happily mean that if they would all just start using skin-lightening preparations, they would suffer far less from diabetes.

    That, at least, is the logical structure of much of the medical advice that gets publicised these days.

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