Canadian First Nations women face 87% lifetime risk of diabetes, study warns


Canadian First Nations people face a far higher lifetime risk of diabetes than non-aboriginals, a study published today shows.

For women, the lifetime risk of diabetes was 46 per cent for non-aboriginal women and over 87 per cent for aboriginal women.

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Aboriginal men had about a 75 per cent lifetime risk of diabetes, as opposed to 55 per cent for non-aboriginal men.

READ MORE: Cancer, diabetes rates higher in First Nations communities in Nova Scotia

Turin blames the dramatic difference on a combination of living conditions and genetics.

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“It’s known that the aboriginal population have a genetic susceptibility,” he adds

WATCH: The Canadian Diabetes Association is calling for policy changes that will help prevent diabetes in First Nations communities and assist those with the disease in managing it. Rebecca Lau has more.

Click to play video: 'High rates of diabetes in First Nations communities'
High rates of diabetes in First Nations communities

Urban First Nations people had lower diabetes rates than those in rural areas.

“This difference was strikingly prominent among women,” the study’s authors wrote. “For example, 20-year-old First Nations women in rural areas had a lifetime risk of 94.2 per cent, as compared with 80.4 per cent among their counterparts in urban locations.”

Turin blames the higher rates in rural areas on the cost of food in northern communities, which can make a healthy diet unaffordable.

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READ MORE: New campaign aims to shed light on the high cost of food in Canada’s north

WATCH: Every three minutes someone is diagnosed with diabetes in Canada. As Meaghan Craig reports, rates in Saskatchewan have more than doubled in the last decade.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan diabetes rate more than doubles in the last decade'
Saskatchewan diabetes rate more than doubles in the last decade

Among non-aboriginals it works the other way around — urban dwellers have slightly higher diabetes rates than their rural counterparts.

Diabetes more than doubled in Canada over the last decade.

READ MORE: Rates of diabetes ‘staggering’ in First Nations communities

The researchers used an Alberta health database covering about 2.8 million people.

People with diabetes face an intimidating list of health challenges, Turin says. They are:

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  • Three times more likely to have cardiovascular disease
  • 12 times more likely to have kidney failure
  • 20 times more likely to have limb amputation
  • Use health care resources two to three  times more than the non-diabetic population.


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