Gender affects risk shows study
Even mildly elevated body iron contributes to the prevalence and incidence of type 2 diabetes, according to new research. Excess body iron accumulation is a known risk factor of type 2 diabetes, but the results show that elevated iron is a risk factor in the general population as well, already at high levels within the normal range.
Men accumulate more iron and are more at risk
In addition, a gender difference was observed in the risk, to some extent due to different body iron accumulation between men and women. Men had 61% higher prevalence and 46% increased risk of developing diabetes when compared to women. At comparable age groups, men were found to accumulate more iron than women, and iron explained about two-fifths and one-fifth of the gender difference in type 2 diabetes prevalence and incidence respectively.
Excess iron disturbs glucose metabolism
Abnormalities in glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes are on the increase globally, and the prevalence of diabetes among adults is estimated at 642 million by 2040. Reduced quality of life and increased mortality due to type 2 diabetes and its complications are of great concern. Preventive measures targeted at established risk factors of type 2 diabetes, such as excess body weight or obesity, physical inactivity and poor nutrition need further exploration.
Unhealthy dietary habits associated with the surge of type 2 diabetes include excess dietary intake of iron and unregulated iron supplement use. Iron is a micronutrient that is required in the formation of some essential body proteins and enzymes, like hemoglobin, cytochromes and peroxidase. However, it is harmful when stored in excess in the body. It promotes the release of free radicals that damage the secretory capacity of beta cells of pancreas to produce insulin. It also decreases insulin sensitivity in peripheral tissues and organs involved in glucose metabolism.