Male Athletes are More Protected Against Type 2 Diabetes in Adulthood

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A study of nearly 400 male elite athletes shows that the condition of high competition sports reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adulthood by 28%, concludes research published in ‘Diabetologia’ by Dr. Merja Laine, University of Helsinki, Finland, and colleagues.

The study of Finnish male athletes follows up the work that began in 1985, when it sent a questionnaire to 1,518 ex-athletes and 1,010 controls, and others in 1995 and 2001. In 2008, he sent an invitation to participate in a clinical trial to ex-athletes all who were still alive (747, of which 392 participated) and controls (436, of which 207 accepted) and had responded to at least one of the previous questionnaires.

The clinical study included a physical examination, laboratory tests and questionnaires. The athletes were divided into 3 groups based on their career: endurance sports and strength mixed and participants with no history of diabetes (537) underwent an OGTT with glucose (75g glucose more 2 hours). Current volume was determined physical activity in leisure time (LTPA) through questionnaires.

The researchers found that being elite ex-athlete reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 28%. However, this decreased varied among different sport categories: risk reduction was 61% for those who had careers in endurance sports (a finding statistically significant), while for mixed sports, the decline was 21% and the power of 23% (both not statistically significant).

The risk of type 2 diabetes decreases with increasing volume of LTPA, by 2% for each weekly hour. Former athletes also had a risk of 42% less glucose intolerance (IGT), a state precursor to diabetes.

‘With aging, former athletes maintain their physically active lifestyle. A former career as an elite athlete protects against type 2 diabetes and glucose intolerance in adulthood. The volume of physical activity current time is also inversely associated with the prevalence of type 2 diabetes,’ the authors conclude.

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