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Arm length linked to type 2 diabetes mellitus risk - study

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By David Liu PHD

Wednesday Feb 29, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- An interesting study published recently in Diabetologia shows that people with shorter arm length are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus.

M.M. Smits and colleagues from University of Washington Seattle, WA found this association after they analyzed data from 658 second and third generation Japanese Americans (349 men and 309 women).

For the study, the researchers measured the total, upper, and forearm length and leg length (total and lower leg length) and also identified cases of type 2 diabetes mellitus by surveying subjects for their use of anti-diabetes medications and measuring fasting plasma glucose, or glucose at 2 hour.

Multivariate regression was used to establish possible associations between prevalence of type 2 diabetes and limb length while other possible confounders were also considered in the analysis.

The researchers found 145 subjects had diabetes.  Using univariate analysis, they did not find any association.  However, when other confounders were considered including age, sex, computed tomography-measured intra-abdominal fat area, height, weight, smoking status and family history of type 2 diabetes, an inverse association appeared between total arm length and upper arm length and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

To be exact, those who had the shortest total arm length were 51 more likely than those who had longer total arm length to develop type 2 diabetes.  Similarly, those who have shorter total upper arm length were found at 44 percent higher risk for the disease.

However, forearm length, height, and leg length were not correlated with type 2 diabetes even after adjustment for other confounders.

The study suggests that  risk of type 2 diabetes have something to do with factors associated with growth.

Vitamin D may be one of the factors that are linked to type 2 diabetes mellitus.  Actually early studies have found vitamin D deficiency, which affects bone growth negatively, was linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.  That is, people with low serum vitamin D levels were more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.

People with type 2 diabetes can produce insulin. But they still can't control glucose levels with using anti-diabetes medications.  The disease affects an estimated 26 million Americans.

There are many things people can do to prevent diabetes.

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