The death rate among US diabetics between 1971-2000 fell significantly for men, but remained unchanged for women, said a medical study Tuesday that did not seek the cause of the gender disparity.
The Epidemiology and Statistics Branch of the Division of Diabetes Translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed national databases from 20,000 people aged 35-74, following the participants for up to 12 years to see who was still living and who died. They found the annual death rate from all causes in diabetic men had fallen from 42.6 to 24.4 per 1,000, a 43 percent reduction in age-adjusted death rate.
Heart ailments, the leading cause of death in diabetics, dropped from 26.4 to 12.8 per 1,000 per year. Among diabetic women, however, there was no decline in the death rate in either category, the CDC study said.
Life expectancy for Americans overall has increased over the past 35 years. The study found the overall death rate of people without diabetes fell from 14.4 to 9.5 per 1,000 per year.
The study's chief author, Edward Gregg, was struck by the gender disparity in life expectancy between diabetic men and women, but said in a statement that the study was not designed to answer its causes. However, the physician explained that earlier studies have suggested women have achieved less progress in heart disease risk factors in recent years.
Other studies, he added, suggest that part of the reason for the sex differences may be the well-described lower rates of treating cardiovascular risk factors and established coronary heart disease in women. High glucose levels are associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Diabetes, often caused by obesity and poor diet, has struck wealthy countries on a massive scale in the past 20 years.