According to recent research published in July 2017 in the online journal PLOS ONE, a critical six-month transition phase occurs in people before they can be diagnosed with full-blown Type 2 diabetes. Scientists at Stanford University in Palo Alto, United States, and various other institutions in China studied 7,334 participants from the Maine (USA) State Health Information Exchange. The researchers looked at all the medical records dating back to 24 months before the Type 2 diabetes diagnosis was made. They found a critical period of six months prior to the diagnosis, a time when it might be possible to head off the disease.
In March of 2014, the journal Brief Bioinformatics reported on a similar study from the University of Shanghai in China. Their dynamic network biomarker (DNB) includes molecules that drive the body’s state from normal to diabetic. Molecules found in the liver, fat, and muscle tissue have to do with…
- insulin resistance, the cause of Type 2 diabetes,
- with inflammation, and with
Particular genes were found to be turned on before Type 2 diabetes was able to be detected. The researchers are optimistic about finding a way to diagnose the transition to Type 2 diabetes before it takes place.
Being able to diagnose the transition to this form of diabetes is interesting but unlikely to be readily available soon. The cost is bound to be prohibitive, and a biopsy of the liver, fat, and muscles is not part of a regular examination and laboratory panel. Doctors will have to make a decision on which of their patients should have the testing and how often: such as testing every six months in those people with some of the risk factors. Until tissue testing becomes common, we will need to rely on blood sugar levels and HbA1c readings for screening and diagnosis.
Risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes include…
- a family history in parents or siblings,
- being overweight or obese,
- leading a sedentary lifestyle,
- being aged over 40,
- belonging to a particular race such as African, Hispanic, American Indian, Asian, and Pacific Islander,
- having a history of Gestational or pregnancy-related diabetes in the past 5 to 10 years,
- giving birth to a child weighing 9 pounds or more.
- having been either overweight or underweight at birth,
- having a mother who had been diagnosed with Gestational diabetes.
The American Association of Family Practice recommends screening overweight and obese individuals 40 to 70 years of age every three years. The American Diabetes Association has much the same recommendation, screening at 45 years of age and every three years after that. Of course, the recommendations apply to healthy people as well. If high blood sugar levels are suspected, then testing is appropriate at any age.