Sharing Diabetes Risk Between Spouses

Diabetes risk was higher in spouses of people with diabetes

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Diabetes is a condition that can be passed on genetically. But it looks like unrelated family members might be at risk as well.

A recent review of studies found that spouses of people with diabetes were at risk for diabetes.

The researchers suggested that shared patterns and behaviors may contribute to this risk. 

"Tell your doctor if your spouse has diabetes."

The lead author of this review was Kaberi Dasgupta, MD, from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The review included five previously published studies on married couples and diabetes.

All of the studies were published between January 1, 1997 and February 28, 2013.

The studies were conducted in China, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the United States and included 75,498 couples. Each couple had one spouse with a history of diabetes.

The average age of the study participants ranged from 52 to 74 years old.

The findings showed that the overall risk of diabetes increased by 26 percent if a spouse had diabetes, when not adjusting for body mass index (height to weight ratio).

When adjusting for body mass index, the risk of diabetes was increased by 18 percent.

The authors of this review determined that a high body mass index was not the main contributor to the risk of diabetes because the risk percentage did not change much when body mass index was added in.

Men were found to have a 31 percent increased risk of diabetes when their spouse had diabetes, and women had a 33 percent increased risk.

Factors such as environment, physical activity, smoking cigarettes and alcohol consumption were believed to contribute to the risk of diabetes.

The authors suggested that recognizing this possible risk of diabetes in couples could encourage couples to cooperate in establishing healthy lifestyle behaviors and patterns within a marriage.

According to these authors, couple-based interventions may be more effective than counseling each of the spouses separately.

The authors mentioned that the individual studies might have had limitations that were not factored into this review.

This review was published on January 23 in BMC Medicine.

The Quebec Society of Hypertension, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Diabetes Association provided funding.

Review Date: 
January 23, 2014
Last Updated:
January 24, 2014