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Blood Type a Risk Factor for Diabetes

For many years, it has been clear that lifestyle factors and personal health choices have played a significant role in the health of those who are pre-disposed for type 2 diabetes. But just how are they pre-disposed? How are these folks different from the majority of other folks who may never go on to develop type 2 diabetes, despite weight and lifestyle choices?

For years, clinicians, researchers, and advisory guideline agencies have sought to develop risk-assessment questionnaires to help gauge a patient’s risk profile for developing the condition, and perhaps help with prevention and early detection.

That list started off with simple questions related to age, weight, and exercise, and has gone on to include a number of other questions such as family history, gender, ethnicity, and history of cardiovascular activity. Sometimes, a patient may even be asked about their employment schedule, sleep habits, if there’s a history of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (which is also a high risk factor for type 2 diabetes among women), along with any history of smoking, drinking, or of taking other medications like certain mood enhancing drugs.

Well, a new study by the Center for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health at the Gustalve Institute in France, suggests that we may have yet another very significant risk factor to add our assessment list: our blood type.

A study of well over 80,000 women who were already being studied for a connection between cardiovascular risk and blood type grouping (over a near 20 year span), found that there was indeed a statistically significant connection between blood type and the women’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Past studies that had attempted to show this connection were always inconclusive because they lacked a large enough population sample.

Taking the Rh (or Rhesus factor) into consideration, which is an inherited trait that refers to a specific protein found on the surface of red blood cells, the study found that women with blood type A had a 10% risk of developing type 2 diabetes, while women with blood type B and B+ had a risk of 21% and 35%, respectively. Patients with blood type O (negative, or positive), had the least associated risk, which was not statistically significant. The reasons behind these associations are unknown, but there are clues pointing to an association of ABO grouping with influence on gut microbe culture and metabolism, molecules associated with type 2 diabetes as well as some type of contribution to inflammation markers.

The overall picture of risk for developing type 2 diabetes, as it unfolds, seems to be ever more complicated. As science works diligently to unfold the mysteries of the condition, and any potential cures or treatments, we must not forget that the most reliable variables we can control will always be our daily health choices – whether we already have diabetes, or are striving to control and manage our own – taking care of our bodies will always be our first line of defense.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.