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Why Blacks May Be More Prone to Diabetes

Study finds genetics explain greater insulin resistance in black children

THURSDAY, April 10, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A group of key genetic markers responsible for increased insulin resistance are much more common in black children than white children and may account for the greater incidence of diabetes in blacks.

That's the finding of a study in the April issue of Diabetes.

Insulin resistance is an important factor in the development of Type 2 diabetes. It's long been known diabetes affects a disproportionate number of blacks.

Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham analyzed a group of 125 children, aged 5 to 16, for 20 key genetic markers that are found far more often in people of African descent than those of European descent.

The more African genetic markers a child had, the less that child's body responded to insulin, resulting in more insulin in the blood, the study found.

"We have previously shown that African-American children are more insulin-resistant, but prior to this study, we lacked evidence suggesting a genetic basis of this effect," study co-author Michael I. Goran, a professor of preventive medicine, physiology and biophysics at the Keck School of Medicine at USC, says in a news release.

"With these results, we have evidence to suggest that at least part of the different profile in African-Americans may be intrinsic rather than due to environmental factors," Goran says.

This study suggests genetic factors may influence pancreas function, the liver's ability to get rid of insulin, or both.

The researchers plan to use additional genetic markers to identify the specific genes associates with insulin sensitivity and acute insulin response.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about diabetes.

SOURCE: University of Southern California, news release, April 2003
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