Behavioural patterns, which directly effect the levels of hormones and metabolism, may be a good way to detect if a person is prone to endocrine disorders such as diabetes, suggests a new study in India . Countering received opinion that diabetes is only dependent on obesity, diet and exercise, if early tests can be successfully developed, in the future straightforward behavioural tests could be able to detect proneness to diabetes at an early stage.
Milind Watve, professor of biology at the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER), said “Behaviour or reactions trigger off release of hormones and stimulate our nerve signals. This, in turn, affects metabolism. In fact, a number of recent studies on wild primates have made progress in our understanding of the behaviour-metabolism interface.”
An example of this is when testosterone levels in chimpanzees go up in a stressful situation, which defines their aggressive nature. In the case of the non-aggressive bonobos, however, it is the corticosteroid levels that increase. The study found that, in times of stress, certain sets of hormones are active, whereas if you are reacting by social manipulatio, an entirely different set of hormones is active, and how you behave decides to a large extent on your susceptibility to endocrine disorders.
As diabetes being the most common endocrine disorder in India, it was essential that the research was applied to the condition. With the preliminary signs being positive, the hope now is that, if specific behaviours make you prone to certain disorders, the study of behaviour will make it possible to predict who is more prone to a given endocrine disorder. The work is at an early stage, and it will be a while before it may be possible to standardise and validate each step and introduce behavioural diagnosis in clinical medicine .

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