Asian Indian Ancestry Raises Risk Of Diabetes
PEOPLE OF ASIAN INDIAN
ancestry are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, even when they are thin,
according to articles in the December 2003 and June 2004 issues of the
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology
and Metabolism. The researchers found that people of Indian, Pakistani,
or Bangladeshi ancestry—all considered "Asian Indian" for these
studies—are metabolically and genetically different from those of
European descent. (Traditionally, anthropologists have classified Asian Indians
as "Caucasians” In these
studies, however, those descended from Europeans are referred to as
"Caucasians") Scientists already knew that insulin resistance and
type 2 diabetes are common in
In the December 2003 study, the research team looked at whether two genes suspected to cause insulin resistance occur more often among people of Asian Indian ancestry than among Caucasians. They also investigated whether people who had these genes were more insulin resistant than those who didn't.
There were 738 subjects of
European ancestry and 638 subjects of Asian Indian ancestry; some of the Asian
Indians were recent immigrants, and others had been born in the
The researchers concluded
that the PC-1 121Q gene is strongly associated with insulin resistance among
Asian Indians in the
The researchers found that although fasting plasma glucose levels were similar in the two groups, the Asian Indian men had significantly higher fasting plasma insulin levels. In addition, the Asian Indians had higher NEFA and leptin levels and lower adiponectin levels than the Caucasian men did.
The Asian Indians' higher levels of NEFA and leptin and lower levels of adiponectin suggest that the bodies of thin Asian Indians are metabolically similar in some ways to those of overweight Caucasians. The researchers concluded that Asian Indians may have a fat cell defect that makes them produce the wrong quantities of these three substances and so leads to insulin resistance, even when a person isn't overweight. Insulin resistance, in turn, presumably leads to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes.
Together, these studies suggest that people of Asian Indian ancestry are genetically more prone to type 2 diabetes. Thus, it is extra important for people with such ancestry to stay as thin as possible, to exercise regularly, and to be aware of the symptoms of diabetes.