Partners who live with people newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop the condition within a year, a study finds.
This research was explained by Dr. Mohammed K Ali, Emory University at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 2015 Scientific Sessions.
Ali and colleagues examined data from over three million members of Kaiser Permanente Northern California between 2005 and 2011. The incidence of diabetes was defined as either two or more outpatient visits in the past two years, being on diabetes medication – except metformin alone – or one or more inpatient or emergency-room diagnosis.
Ali’s team noted when all ages were combined, between 18 and 79, spouses of newly diagnosed patients had double the incidence of diabetes. Compared to the overall Kaiser Permanente population, women with newly diagnosed live-in partners had a 90 per cent increased risk, while men had a 2.5 fold increased risk.
No differences were observed across racial groups, while the data on same-sex partnerships provided too small findings to illustrate a significant conclusion.
Audrey C Chu, PhD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Bosto, Massachusetts, was intrigued by the findings. She said: “We’ve found a lot of genetics that are predictive of type 2 diabetes, but this is showing how strong an environmental effect [can be], and this is an important area for new interventions to focus on in the future.”
However, James B Meigs, Massachusetts General Hospital stressed caution over the findings, adding: “The researchers didn’t account for Body Mass Index (BMI), and I believe that if you accounted for obesity, a lot of the effect would go away.”

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