Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

No Sign That Ethnic Groups' Genes Cause Diabetes

Date:
April 16, 2007
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
A study by U.S. and Australian researchers is helping dispel the 40-year-old "thrifty genotype theory," which purports that certain minority groups are genetically prone to diabetes.

A study by U.S. and Australian researchers is helping dispel the 40-year-old “thrifty genotype theory,” which purports that certain minority groups are genetically prone to diabetes.

Related Articles


The study, co-authored by UC Irvine anthropologist Michael Montoya, along with an epidemiologist and population geneticist, analyzed existing genetic studies published across a variety of disciplines. The team found no evidence to support the widely held thrifty genotype theory, which suggests that 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. The study helps explain why more than 250 genes have been studied as possible causes of type-2 diabetes, but together these genes explain less than 1 percent of diabetes prevalence worldwide.

“When it comes to diabetes, we’re finding that genes are no more important for ethnic minorities than for anyone else,” said Stephanie Fullerton, a population geneticist and bioethicist at the University of Washington and co-author of the study.

Also, it was found that in most existing studies of the suspected genes that contribute to diabetes in ethnic minorities, researchers failed to control for the potential impact of social and environmental factors. Controls would have enabled researchers to see that other factors – such as poverty, housing segregation or poor diet – were stronger indicators of diabetes than genes.“Our study shows that by focusing on genes, researchers miss the more significant and alterable environmental causes of diabetes,” Montoya said.

Montoya argues that in order to gain a better understanding of the causes of type-2 diabetes, future research efforts will require interdisciplinary teams that assess social, historical and environmental factors as carefully as researchers have studied the genetic factors.

“Poor diet, reduced physical activity, stress, low birth weight and other factors associated with poverty all contribute to the high rate of diabetes in these groups,” said Yin Paradies, epidemiologist at Australia’s Menzies School of Health Research and co-author of the study.

Montoya’s recent work has found that it’s virtually impossible for geneticists to define ethnicity and race in strictly scientific terms – historic, political and social factors inevitably influence their definition of genetic groups. He is on faculty in the departments of anthropology and Chicano/Latino Studies in the School of Social Sciences. He is also on the faculty of UCI’s Program in Medical Education for the Latino Community (PRIME-LC), the first medical education program in the country designed to meet the growing demand for physicians and public health leaders who are specifically trained to address the distinct and specific needs of medically underserved Latinos.

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


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Irvine. "No Sign That Ethnic Groups' Genes Cause Diabetes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070416132455.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2007, April 16). No Sign That Ethnic Groups' Genes Cause Diabetes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070416132455.htm
University of California - Irvine. "No Sign That Ethnic Groups' Genes Cause Diabetes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070416132455.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins