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.
“We are quite alarmed and concerned,” said Tanvir Chowdhury Turin of the University of Calgary, the study’s lead author.
Aboriginal men had about a 75 per cent lifetime risk of diabetes, as opposed to 55 per cent for non-aboriginal men.
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Turin blames the dramatic difference on a combination of living conditions and genetics.
“One big component is poverty,” he says.
“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.
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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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:
- 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.