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Does Diabetes Mellitus Affect Men and Women Differently

  • Published: 2011-01-10 : healthchoices.ca.
  • Synopsis: There are more similarities than dissimilarities between men and women with diabetes.

Main Document

Men and women have very different health concerns, but when it comes to diabetes mellitus, many of the challenges they face are similar.

Diabetes is a disease caused by the pancreas' inability to produce insulin or to efficiently use insulin. After we eat, food is broken down into a type of sugar called glucose. The sugar passes into the bloodstream to provide energy to the cells via insulin. In a person with normal insulin production, the pancreas produces the right amount of insulin to balance blood sugar. However, in someone with diabetes, sugar begins to build up in the blood.

"There are more similarities than dissimilarities between men and women with diabetes," says Dr. Richard Bebb, an endocrinologist active in the Men's Health Initiative of BC. "But, there are some specific differences, as women tend to gain weight, it affects their hormone function, and they'll tend to develop an entity called polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is related to high testosterone levels."

If men or women with diabetes mellitus don't make healthy diet and lifestyle changes, they may develop a disease called metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the name for a number of health conditions that increase a patient's risk of developing heart disease or diabetes. If you have metabolic syndrome it means that you have three or more disorders related to your metabolism occurring at the same time, including:

How large the waist is: excess fat in the abdominal area is a higher risk factor for heart disease than fat in other parts of the body

A higher than normal triglyceride level (triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood)

Higher than normal blood pressure

Higher than normal fasting blood sugar

A lower than normal HDL cholesterol level; HDL is sometimes called the "good cholesterol"

In both men and women with diabetes mellitus, monitoring blood sugar, eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly is key to successfully managing diabetes.

Find out more about diabetes, health and wellness at HealthChoices.ca. (http//:www.healthchoices.ca)

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