Can You Get Diabetes From Your Spouse?

Friday, 24 Jan 2014 03:35 PM

By Nick Tate

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Diabetes is not contagious, but sharing a household with someone who has the metabolic disorder can greatly increase the risk of developing the condition, a new study shows.
 
Researchers from the McGill University Health Centre who analyzed several studies determined that spousal diabetes is a risk factor. The findings, published in the British Medical Journal BMC Medicine, may help improve diabetes detection and motivate couples to work together to reduce the risk of developing the condition.
 
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"We found a 26 percent increase in the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes if your spouse also has Type 2 diabetes," said Kaberi Dasgupta, M.D., with the Research Institute of the MUHC and an associate professor of medicine at McGill University. "This may be a platform to assist clinicians to develop strategies to involve both partners. Changing health behavior is challenging and if you have the collaboration of your partner it's likely to be easier."
 
Dr. Dasgupta's said the team undertook the analysis to determine if diabetes in one partner could lead to diabetes in the other, noting many of the risk behaviors that lead to diabetes — such as poor eating habits and low physical activity — could be common in a household.
 
The researchers' conclusions were based on an analysis of six studies conducted in different parts of the world that examined diabetes diagnoses involving 75,498 couples.
 
"The results of our review suggest that diabetes diagnosis in one spouse may warrant increased surveillance in the other," Dr. Dasgupta said, noting doctors typically track family history of diabetes in patients, but not spousal diabetes.

"Moreover, it has been observed that men are less likely than women to undergo regular medical evaluation after childhood and that can result in delayed diabetes detection. As a result, men living with a spouse with diabetes history may particularly benefit from being followed more closely."

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