Diabetes in Men
Diabetes is commonly known as a chronic metabolic disorder that results in high glucose, or sugar, levels in the blood. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin due to the destruction of cells in the pancreas; type 2 is caused by the inability to use the insulin made by the body. Factors such as poor diet, obesity, and physical inactivity, among others can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes. However, in men, it has been observed that low levels of the hormone testosterone may also lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.
Testosterone is present in both males and females but the levels in males are usually higher. According to the Mayo Clinic, testosterone functions to maintain bone density, fat distribution, muscle mass and reproductive and sexual function in men. As men become older, their testosterone levels decrease. Low levels of testosterone have been shown to contribute to the development of obesity, poor glucose regulation and a disorder known as metabolic syndrome. The National Institute of Health states that in metabolic syndrome, at least three of the following health factors are present: abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels, low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar.
Because the health factors associated with metabolic syndrome may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, there is an active interest in preventing metabolic syndrome. In studies specific to men with low testosterone, the impact of medications to increase testosterone back to normal levels continues to be assessed. Multiple studies have been conducted showing contradictory results. Some studies state that testosterone supplementation may help with weight loss, reduction of glucose and cholesterol levels, and better utilization of insulin by the body. However, other studies have been unable to verify the same results. Before considering or beginning testosterone therapy, the risks and benefits should be discussed with a healthcare professional. Everyone has different treatment needs, and factors such as other health conditions and other medications being taken play an important role in determining which therapy is right.
Diabetes can cause many complications including heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, stroke and eye problems. Thus, preventing diabetes and the associated complications is of primary importance. For both men and women, diabetes prevention begins with following a healthy lifestyle. According to the American Diabetes Association, getting two and a half hours of moderate intensity exercise every week and following a diet high in nutrients and a moderate number of calories, are central in preventing or delaying diabetes. Working with a doctor or dietitian to achieve lifestyle modification goals can help keep you on track.