Heavy snorers are up to 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes. Scientists at Yale University studied 1 200 patients with sleep apnoea, the snoring condition in which night-time breathing is interrupted by the airways temporarily closing. Each patient underwent tests to measure blood sugar levels for signs of diabetes. The results showed the more severe the snoring problem, the greater the chance of high blood sugar levels. Men were more affected than women. One of the main risk factors for sleep apnoea is being overweight, which is also a marker for type 2 diabetes. But scientists think the closing of the airways may cause a rise in cortisol levels, driving glucose levels up.
Around one in 20 pregnant women develops temporary gestational diabetes. Here, the body produces extra sugar to help the foetus grow, upsetting the normal insulin-glucose balance, and usually results in a large baby. Although the diabetes normally resolves itself after the birth, experts fear affected women are unaware they are at a much higher risk of developing it again when they are older: statistics from the U.S. show that such women are seven times more likely to develop the type 2 form later in life. Scientists are not sure if gestational diabetes causes changes in the body, or whether it just acts a marker for those already at risk. Dr David Haslam, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, says: ‘We have no system in the NHS for following up women who’ve had gestational diabetes. ‘They should have annual blood tests to check their glucose and insulin levels, and be given advice on diet and lifestyle,’ he says.
Recent Australian research found those who skip breakfast are likely to experience a sudden drop in blood sugar levels in the late morning, making them crave a sugary treat. This leads to a sudden surge in blood sugar and, in time, the over-stimulation of insulin. This increases the likelihood of the body’s cells becoming resistant to the effects of the hormone, allowing diabetes to set in, possibly at an early age. The excess insulin is also thought to boost the storage of visceral fat, the dangerous kind which gathers around the organs in the abdomen.
Around 3.6 million Britons work shifts. Evidence is emerging that regularly changing shifts over long periods can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 50 per cent. A recent study at Harvard University found workers who mix day and night shifts are most at risk. As with sleep loss, the reason is thought to be the effect that disrupted lifestyles have on circadian rhythms.
DRINKING FRUIT JUICE
A study of 70 000 women found those drinking about 180ml of fruit juice a day were 18 percent more at risk of diabetes. In contrast, eating whole fruits instead reduced the risk. Natural sugars in fruit are absorbed very quickly through the stomach, causing a surge in blood sugar levels. But by eating the fruit itself, the absorption is slowed down by the fibres that take longer to digest.
Maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle, exercise regularly and keep your eye on risk factors for diabetes.
Written by Pat Hagan, this article originally appeared in the Daily Mail