Monday, March 30, 2009

schizophrenia and diabetes

An interesting story. ?Association or causation?

AUGUSTA, Ga. – People with schizophrenia are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, Medical College of Georgia researchers have found.

In a study of 50 people newly-diagnosed with schizophrenia or a related psychotic disorder with no other known risk factors, 16 percent had either diabetes or an abnormal rate of glucose metabolism, says Dr. Brian Kirkpatrick, vice chair of the MCG Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior. In a similar size control group of people without schizophrenia, none had signs of or had developed the disease.

People with diabetes cannot produce or properly use insulin, a hormone that converts glucose, starches and other food into energy.


spunkysuzi said...

I do a lot of volunteer work with people with mental health problems. I'm also on a a board of directors for people with mental health issues. And yes we find that a lot of the people have diabetes or pre-diabetes. We've even started a program for them that includes nutritional help, a walking group and other exercise classes. It is definitely a fact that people who have mental health issue often have co-addictions i.e smoking, excessive eating etc.. And most do not exercise!!

StarCherub said...

It doesn't get any better for them when some medications for schizophrenia (Geodon and Risperdal for example) have diabetes as a listed side effect. Other side effects of these types of antipsychotic medications include weight gain, and while I was on a couple of them, excessive sleepiness, lowered heat tolerance, and bottomless cravings for carbs. A recipe for fat and disaster, and diabetes, indeed.

Sabio said...

Matt Ridley's book, The Agile Gene: How Nature Turns on Nurture, has a good chapter on the search for the cause of Schizophrenia. Various causes have been explored. No cause is found singular but it appears that a constellations of factors can cause it.
Theories of causation have come and gone: cold-hearted mothers and gay fathers were considered candidates at one time. The search for the Mendelian inheritance gene has also failed. Diet has certainly been considered too -- from oils to sugar. At the end of the chapter, Ridley concludes: "Many genes clearly influence susceptibility to schizophrenia, many may respond to it is compensation, but few seem to cause it. Prenatal infection seems to be vital in many cases, but it may be neither necessary nor sufficient. Diet can exacerbate symptoms and perhaps even trigger the onset of symptoms, but probably only those who are genetically susceptible."
All to say, when alluding to causes, as this entries title does, we need to be careful in implying our favorite issue as a cause. Nature is packed with outcomes preceded by complicated cascades and various forked causations.
Most interestingly, Matt shows how Schizophrenia, and other psychotic elements of human psych, may be the genetic prize we pay for also having intellectual brilliance and sparkling creativity in the human mind.

Chris said...

Of course I was being a bit cheeky with this post.

Genetics and epigenetics is really important in all sorts of things.

Of course there is a genetic element but there are environmental factors that will turn genes on or off - methylation or acetylation or whatever. Diet might be one of those factors.