Stress may in­crease Type 2 di­a­betes risk in women

El Dorado News-Times - - Living -

Tra­di­tional risk fac­tors like obe­sity, high blood pressure and a seden­tary lifestyle may not be the only pre­dic­tors of Type 2 di­a­betes. New re­search points to the role that stress may play in the de­vel­op­ment of the con­di­tion in women.

The study, be­ing pre­sented Satur­day at the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion's Sci­en­tific Ses­sions con­fer­ence, found that mount­ing stress from trau­matic events, as well as longterm sit­u­a­tions at home or work, was as­so­ci­ated with an al­most two-fold higher risk of new Type 2 di­a­betes cases among older women.

"Psy­choso­cial stres­sors as risk fac­tors for di­a­betes should be taken as se­ri­ously as other em­braced di­a­betes risk fac­tors," said Jonathan But­ler, the study's lead re­searcher and a post­doc­toral scholar at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cisco's Cen­ter for the Study of Ad­ver­sity and Car­dio­vas­cu­lar Dis­ease.

Di­a­betes is a ma­jor pub­lic health is­sue, af­fect­ing an es­ti­mated 30.3 mil­lion Amer­i­cans as of 2015, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est data from the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion. Among them, 12 mil­lion are 65 and older.

"As older women in­creas­ingly rep­re­sent a higher pro­por­tion of our pop­u­la­tion, we need to bet­ter un­der­stand risk fac­tors for di­a­betes in this group," said But­ler.

Di­a­betes is a chronic dis­ease where the body can't reg­u­late blood sugar prop­erly. Too much glu­cose in the blood can lead to a host of health prob­lems, in­clud­ing heart dis­ease, stroke and kid­ney dis­ease. While fam­ily his­tory and age can play a role, fac­tors such as high choles­terol, high blood pressure, obe­sity and phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity make peo­ple more sus­cep­ti­ble to Type 2 di­a­betes.

How­ever, re­searchers are be­gin­ning to look beyond just phys­i­o­log­i­cal risk fac­tors.

"We've been try­ing

to un­der­stand the re­la­tion­ship be­tween stress, men­tal health and di­a­betes risk for a while," said Dr. Sherita Hill Golden, pro­fes­sor of medicine at the Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity School of Medicine in Bal­ti­more. Emerg­ing ev­i­dence sug­gests that psy­choso­cial stress and how peo­ple cope with stress may im­pact car­diometabolic health.

Pre­vi­ous stud­ies on stress and di­a­betes have fo­cused on in­di­vid­ual stres­sors, such as work or symp­toms of de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety. Oth­ers have only looked at snap­shots in time. So, But­ler and his col­leagues set out to un­der­stand the joint

re­la­tion­ship of mul­ti­ple stres­sors with di­a­betes risk among women over time.

Re­searchers in­cluded data on 22,706 fe­male health pro­fes­sion­als par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Women's Health Study who did not have heart dis­ease and whose aver­age age was 72. They col­lected in­for­ma­tion on acute and chronic stres­sors and then fol­lowed the women for an aver­age of three years. Acute stress in­cluded neg­a­tive and trau­matic life events, whereas chronic stress was re­lated to work, fam­ily, re­la­tion­ships, fi­nances, neigh­bor­hood and dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Women with the high­est

lev­els of acute and chronic stress had nearly dou­ble the risk for di­a­betes.

The next steps will be to con­firm the find­ings and iden­tify strate­gies tar­geted at psy­choso­cial stres­sors that might de­crease di­a­betes risk in older women, said Dr. Michelle A. Albert, the study's se­nior au­thor and a pro­fes­sor of medicine at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cisco.

"From a pub­lic health per­spec­tive, health care providers should in­quire about psy­choso­cial stres­sors as part of their as­sess­ment of di­a­betes risk," she said.

For now, Golden said the new re­search high­lights the im­por­tance

of con­sid­er­ing the role of non-tra­di­tional risk fac­tors such as stress in the de­vel­op­ment of di­a­betes.

"We know that lifestyle in­ter­ven­tion works for di­a­betes preven­tion, but that can be chal­leng­ing if peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence cu­mu­la­tive stres­sors, like los­ing a job or car­ing for a fam­ily mem­ber, that hin­der them from en­gag­ing in healthy be­hav­iors like ex­er­cis­ing, eat­ing right or smok­ing ces­sa­tion," she said. "It's im­por­tant to assess and un­der­stand a pa­tient's so­cial his­tory. They may need a re­fer­ral to a coun­selor or so­cial worker."

Find more news from Sci­en­tific Ses­sions.

Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion News cov­ers heart dis­ease, stroke and re­lated health is­sues. Not all views ex­pressed in Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion News sto­ries re­flect the official po­si­tion of the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion.

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