Type 2 Diabetes: What Men Should Know

Why Men Are More Likely to Develop Type 2 Diabetes

Author: Erin Thomson

In June we get to celebrate Father’s Day, which just happens to take place during Men’s Health Month. A coincidence, probably not. What may come as a surprise, is that men are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women due to being biologically more susceptible to the disease, making it even more important for men to keep an eye on their health. Type 2 diabetes impairs the body to regulate and use glucose, also known as sugar, as fuel. Too much sugar in the bloodstream can lead to high blood sugar levels, resulting in diabetes.

“Different behaviors of men and women, exposure to specific influences of the environment, different forms of nutrition, lifestyle, how we deal with stress, or attitudes towards treatment and prevention all have an impact on gender differences when it comes to type 2 diabetes,” said Jenisa Shrestha, MD, Family Medicine Resident at McLaren Flint Family Medicine Residency Group Practice. “Alcohol consumption and smoking habits also contribute tremendously to the increased incidence of diabetes in men.”

Testosterone can play a role as well. It is involved in the deposition of fat beneath the surface of the skin is called subcutaneous fat deposition, and around organs is called visceral fat deposition. Type 2 diabetes directly correlates with increased visceral fat deposition. Research has also shown that low testosterone levels in men can lead to poor muscle formation and increase visceral fat deposition, leading to a dramatic increase in diabetes risk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men are more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at a lower weight compared to women due to men storing more fat in their stomach area usually occurring between the ages of 45 and 64. Diabetes leads to a greater risk for heart disease, stroke, vision loss, kidney failure, even amputation of the lower extremities. For men, in particular, it can cause an overactive bladder, incontinence, and urinary tract infections. Also, men with type 2 diabetes are three times more likely than the general population to experience erectile dysfunction due to nerve, muscle and blood vessel damage.

“Most diabetic symptoms are the same in men and women,” said Dr. Shrestha. “These general symptoms include constant thirst, constant urination, fatigue, dizziness and weight loss.”

Usually, the treatment plan for type 2 diabetes includes:

Education and support for diabetes self-management.

  • Eating healthy, following a diabetic diet, and managing a healthy weight. Also, calorie and portion control, and avoiding sugary drinks. Diabetic classes and dietician consultations can help implement these.
  • Maintaining an active lifestyle with at least 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days a week.
  • Early initiation of treatment and preventing complications.
  • Regular healthcare visits for management of disease and discussions.
  • Regular eye examinations, foot examinations, and dental checkups to prevent complications.

Fortunately, there are preventative measures to avoid getting type 2 diabetes in the first place by modifying your lifestyle with diet and exercise.

 “Along with lifestyle modifications, regular checkups help detect elevated blood sugar levels, allowing early management for better outcomes,” explained Dr. Shrestha. “For high-risk patients including those who have a history of diabetes mellitus, overweight or obese patients, certain races like African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian, and Alaska Native, HbA1C is done during an annual physical which will help to detect pre-diabetes. The good news is prompt intervention with lifestyle modification and the use of medications will delay or even halt the progression of the disease.”

If you are in need of a primary care provider click here, or to learn more about the diabetes education program at McLaren Flint, click here.