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Gene May Boost Chances of Type 2 Diabetes for Latinos
Study finds a fivefold increase in risk, but doesn't prove cause-and-effect

TUESDAY, June 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new study links a gene variant found in Latinos to a fivefold increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes, potentially explaining why the condition is especially common in Latino people.

In Mexico, for instance, an estimated 14 percent of adults had type 2 diabetes in 2006. The condition is also common among Latino people worldwide.

In the new study, researchers studied DNA samples from almost 3,800 Latinos -- including Latinos from the United States and Mexicans -- who were recruited from 1993 to 2013. Of the participants, about 1,800 had type 2 diabetes and the rest, nearly 2,000 people, did not.

One type of DNA found from this group was further tested in a group of more than 14,000 people.

This rare genetic variant was found in slightly over 2 percent of those with type 2 diabetes and just 0.36 percent of those without diabetes. That means that the gene was associated with about a five times increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the study authors reported in the June 11 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

However, the association between the gene variant and increased risk of diabetes found in the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

"Further research is warranted to evaluate the clinical relevance of these findings," Karol Estrada, from the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and colleagues wrote in an institute news release.

The study team recommended that researchers look into the potential benefits of screening for diabetes using this genetic variant, or at the possibility of developing gene-based treatments.

More information

For more about type 2 diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association.

SOURCE: Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, news release, June 10, 2014

-- Randy Dotinga

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