No sign ethnic group genes cause diabetes

Apr 17, 2007

U.S. and Australian scientists have dispelled a 40-year-old "thrifty genotype theory" that certain minority groups are genetically prone to diabetes.

University of California-Irvine anthropologist Michael Montoya, University of Washington geneticist Stephanie Fullerton, and Yin Paradies, an epidemiologist at Australia's Menzies School of Health Research, analyzed existing genetic studies published across a variety of disciplines.

The team found no evidence to support the popular "thrifty genotype theory," which suggests cycles of feast and famine early in human history created a gene that helps the body use scarce nutrients -- a gene that leads to obesity and diabetes in comfortable, sedentary modern lifestyles.

"Our study challenges the presumption that Native American, Mexican American, African American, Australian Aborigine, or other indigenous groups are genetically prone to diabetes because the evidence demonstrates that higher rates of diabetes across population groups can be explained by non-genetic factors alone," said Montoya.

He noted the research helps explain why more than 250 genes have been studied as possible causes of type-2 diabetes, but those genes explain less than 1 percent of diabetes prevalence worldwide.

The findings are published in the spring issue of the journal Perspectives in Biology and Medicine.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: How learning to talk is in the genes

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Physical by smartphone becoming real possibility

May 03, 2013

It's not a "Star Trek" tricorder, but by hooking a variety of gadgets onto a smartphone you could almost get a complete physical - without the paper gown or even a visit to the doctor's office.

Recommended for you

Gene variant that dramatically reduces 'bad' lipids

Sep 16, 2014

In the first study to emerge from the UK10K Project's cohort of samples from the general public, scientists have identified a rare genetic variant that dramatically reduces levels of certain types of lipids in the blood. ...

New diagnostic method identifies genetic diseases

Sep 16, 2014

People with genetic diseases often have to embark on an odyssey from one doctor to the next. Fewer than half of all patients who are suspected of having a genetic disease actually receive a satisfactory diagnosis. Scientists ...

User comments : 0