Beware late-adolescence stress: 18-year-old men with low resistance to stress are up to 50 percent more likely to be afflicted with type 2 diabetes during adulthood.
These are the findings of new research from U.S. and Swedish researchers, led by Dr. Casey Crump of Stanford University’s Department of Medicine.
Adult stress has been previously linked with a higher type 2 diabetes risk, likely as a result of both physiological and behavioral factors. The researchers studied the same disease potential but due to low stress resistance in early life.
The team published its findings in the journal Diabetologia.
The population-based study analyzed data from over 1.5 million military conscripts in Sweden from 1969 to 1997, a time when there was compulsory national service in the country, including up to 98 percent of all 18-year-old males. The subjects, who had previous diabetes diagnosis, underwent standardized psychological tests for stress resilience.
Researchers followed up on the study participants for type 2 diabetes diagnosis from 1987 to 2012, with 62 years old as the maximum age reached.
The follow-up saw that 34,000 males were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The 20 percent of men with the lowest resistance to stress emerged to have 51 percent more chance of being diagnosed with the condition than the 20 percent with the highest resistance.
Low stress resilience was associated with a greater likelihood of acquiring type 2 diabetes after the researchers adjusted for body mass index, family history of the disease, and individual and neighborhood socioeconomic considerations.
"These findings suggest that psychosocial function and ability to cope with stress may play an important long-term role in etiological pathways for type 2 diabetes,” concluded the authors, encouraging further studies to investigate the underlying factors that will help in medical treatment.
They added that the way resistance to stress influences the occurrence of type 2 diabetes is likely complex and involved both physiological factors and unhealthy lifestyle.
People who are stressed out are more likely to follow an unhealthy path of living, such as smoking, being sedentary, and consuming an unhealthy diet.
As all study subjects were male army recruits, it is also uncertain whether the findings also apply directly to women.
Photo: Mood Board | Flickr