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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 22;8(4):e61763. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061763. Print 2013.

The risk of type 2 diabetes in men is synergistically affected by parental history of diabetes and overweight.

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Division of Cardiovascular Epidemiology, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Interactions between genetic- and lifestyle factors may be of specific importance for the development of type 2 diabetes. Only a few earlier studies have evaluated interaction effects for the combination of family history of diabetes and presence of risk factors related to lifestyle. We explored whether 60-year-old men and women from Stockholm with a parental history of diabetes are more susceptible than their counterparts without a parental history of diabetes to the negative influence from physical inactivity, overweight or smoking regarding risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The study comprised 4232 participants of which 205 men and 113 women had diabetes (the vast majority type 2 diabetes considering the age of study participants) and 224 men and 115 women had prediabetes (fasting glucose 6.1-6.9 mmol/l). Prevalence odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated using logistic regression. Biologic interaction was analyzed using a Synergy index (S) score. The crude OR for type 2 diabetes associated with a parental history of diabetes was 2.4 (95% CI 1.7-3.5) in men and 1.4 (95% CI 0.9-2.3) in women. Adjustments for overweight, physical inactivity and current smoking had minimal effects on the association observed in men whereas in women it attenuated results. In men, but not in women, a significant interaction effect that synergistically increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes was observed for the combination of BMI>30 and a parental history of diabetes, S 2.4 (95% CI 1.1-5.1). No signs of interactions were noted for a parental history of diabetes combined with physical inactivity and smoking, respectively. In conclusion, obesity in combination with presence of a parental history of diabetes may be particularly hazardous in men as these two factors were observed to synergistically increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in men.

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