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Monday 24th October 2016

Diabetes risk rises in stressed men

28th July 2008

Researchers in Sweden say that men who suffer from anxiety, depression and sleepless night are at increased risk of developing diabetes.


Men with high levels of psychological distress were more than twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with low levels, according to a team led by Professor Anders Ekbom, from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

No such link appeared to exist in women, said researchers, who published their findings in the journal Diabetic Medicine.

The team interviewed 2,127 men born between 1938 and 1957 and 3,100 women, questioning them for signs of psychological distress, including anxiety, insomnia, depression, apathy and fatigue.

At the time, the men had normal blood glucose levels, and they then were tested 8-10 years later for diabetes.

Around 2.3 million people have type 2 diabetes in the United Kingdom, although another half million is believed to be unaware they have the disease.

The men who scored the highest on the scale of psychological distress were 2.2 times more likely to develop the condition than those at the lower end of the scale.

The link held after other factors, including age, body mass index, family history, smoking, physical activity levels and socio-economic background were controlled for.

However, women with the highest levels of psychological distress showed no increased risk for diabetes.

Stress and depression have already been established as risk factors for heart disease and it has long been suspected they may also play a role in diabetes.

Ekbom said the link could be a result of the way psychological distress affects the brain's role in regulating hormones, or perhaps because depression influences a person's diet and level of physical activity in a negative way.

He said the differences between men and women tended might be attributable to their different coping strategies, with women far more likely to communicate their distress to others, while men were more likely to seek out "private" solutions to their problems, including drinking and drug use.

Experts said the results of the research were intriguing because of the gender differences, but that it built on previous studies showing a correlation between type 2 diabetes and stress and insomnia.

In a separate study, a team at the University of Newcastle found that walking for 45 minutes a day can help control diabetes, because people who walk regularly are better at burning fat, and are consequently able to regulate their blood sugar better as well.


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