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  • Posted May 17, 2024

Men Are More Debilitated by Diabetes Than Women

Men are more vulnerable than women to the debilitating effects of diabetes, a new long-term study finds.

Overall rates of diabetes are similar between men and women, according to the report published May 16 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

But heart disease, eye disorders, kidney problems and leg and foot complications are all higher in men with diabetes, regardless of how long they've had it, researchers found.

“Men with diabetes are at greater risk of complications, irrespective of diabetes duration,” concluded the team led by Alice Gibson, with the University of Sydney in Australia.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from a health survey of more than 267,000 people older than 45 living in New South Wales, a state of Australia. These responses were linked to medical records from nearly 26,000 people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Overall, diabetic men were 51% more likely to develop heart disease, 47% more likely to have leg and foot complications and 55% more likely to have kidney disease.

Men also had a slightly higher (14%) risk of diabetic retinopathy, the sight-threatening eye disease.

Complication rates rose in tandem with the number of years that either men or women have lived with diabetes, researchers said. Regardless, men always had a higher risk than women.

Men in the study might be more likely to suffer these complications because they tend to have other well-known risk factors linked to those health problems, researchers said.

For example, more men than women were overweight (39% vs. 29%) and were ex-smokers (51% vs. 29%).

Men also were less likely to make lifestyle changes, take preventive medications or get health checks to lower their risk, researchers said.

The researchers did note that complications were still common in women, even though they happen more in men.

“For every 1,000 people with diabetes, our findings suggest that an average of 37, 52, 21 and 32 people will develop cardiovascular disease, eye, lower limb, and kidney complications every year,” the researchers said in a journal news release.

“Although men with diabetes are at greater risk of developing complications, in particular [cardiovascular disease], kidney and lower-limb complications, the rates of complications are high in both sexes,” they concluded. “The similar sex difference for those with shorter compared with longer diabetes duration highlights the need for targeted complication screening and prevention strategies from the time of diabetes diagnosis.”

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about diabetes complications.

SOURCE: BMJ, news release, May 16, 2024

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