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Unique physiology key to diagnosing and treating diabetes in Asian populations
Date:5/8/2012

Boston May 7, 2012 As the diabetes epidemic spreads worldwide, there is growing concern for Asian American populations, who are nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. Compounding the problem, many of the standard ways to detect diabetes fail in people of Asian descent.

"The medical profession needs to be aware of and address the unique characteristics of this population," said George L. King, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer at Joslin Diabetes Center and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS). "Without this understanding, diabetes could be misdiagnosed or missed altogether."

Dr. King was lead author of nine diabetes specialists nationwide who collaboratively wrote an article published in the May 2012 edition of Diabetes Care highlighting a comprehensive range of research findings presented at an international symposium held in Honolulu in September 2011.

The authors compiled extensive data on various groups that comprise the Asian American population, encompassing immigrants from numerous East Asian countries and those born in the United States. They also studied diabetes incidence in Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

Although there are large differences in immigration patterns and lifestyle adaptations to U.S. culture among these groups, common threads and new insights are emerging. Researchers are finding significant differences in how diabetes affects the body's chemistry, how to view body weight, and why commonly used laboratory tests may not be reliable in Asian populations.

"Type 1 diabetes can be difficult to clinically differentiate from type 2 diabetes in Asians," said Dr. William C. Hsu, M.D., who with Dr. King co-directs the Asian American Diabetes Initiative at Joslin. Dr. Hsu, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at HMS, was lead author of a team of 12 experts who wrote a second article published in the same edition of Diabetes Care. These
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Contact: Jeffrey Bright
jeffrey.bright@joslin.harvard.edu
617-309-1957
Joslin Diabetes Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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