Diabetes treatment increases survival in women, but not men – University of Copenhagen

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30 November 2015

Diabetes treatment increases survival in women, but not men


New Danish research shows significant difference in the effect of diabetes treatment between men and women. While women's survival is increased by providing tailored treatment, the same does not apply to men. The researchers behind the study ask us to consider whether men and women with diabetes should be treated differently in future.

There is a big difference between being a woman or a man when being treated for type 2 diabetes, as women live longer when they put together an individualised treatment programme with their doctor.  Men, on the other hand, are lagging behind and do not achieve the same effect as women. This is the finding of new research from the Section of General Practice, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen. The research results have just been published in the scientific journal Diabetologia.

"We are very surprised that there is such a huge difference between the genders in terms of survival. We cannot say precisely why, but we know that women are more responsive to advice and to a larger extent embrace treatment options offered, while men are less concerned about the long-term consequences of diabetes and worry more about the limitation of personal freedom, which the disease may cause," says Marlene Øhrberg Krag, medical doctor and one of the researchers behind the study.

According to Marlene Øhrberg Krag, there may also be, for example, biological, social and cultural factors behind the large difference between the genders.

Gender must be incorporated in treatment
The new study is based on a follow-up of 1,381 people with type 2 diabetes. They were examined six years after being diagnosed with diabetes, and they were subsequently monitored for 13 years. The mortality rate of women receiving tailored treatment for six years was 25 per cent lower over the following 13 years compared with women receiving standard diabetes treatment. The same did not apply to men.

"We need to be better at meeting men where they are to also increase their survival rate. If they do not care for tailored treatment, which, to a large extent, involves advice and conversation, we must consider other avenues. It would be an obvious choice to continue our research into how we can get men to take ownership of their treatment. A good dialogue between doctor and patient is also important, so the treatment may, to a greater extent, be adapted to male patient needs," says Marlene Øhrberg Krag.

The article "The impact of gender on the long-term morbidity and mortality of patients with type 2 diabetes receiving structured personal care: a 13 year follow-up study" can be found here: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00125-015-3804-4

Marlene Øhrberg Krag, tel. +45 61 33 55 84, marlene.krag@gmail.com 
Niels de Fine Olivarius, tel. +45 61 30 85 47, olivarius@sund.ku.dk