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Independents' Day

Unmarried men with type A personality at increased risk of diabetes

Hostility, anger and a type A personality are independent risk factors for impaired glucose metabolism in older unmarried men.

The study was a retrospective analysis of data collected in the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study, which followed a cohort of 485 healthy men aged 42-76 (mean age 59) from 1986 to 1995 who had completed a personality inventory at baseline. Almost 80% of study participants were married.

Sociodemographic information, physical data, biometric investigations and psychometric data were collected every three years. This included blood pressure measurement and the collection of a fasting blood glucose sample.

None of the participants had any history of heart disease or diabetes, and none were on medication for related problems.

After controlling for variables such as age, education, marital status, BMI, total cholesterol and systolic blood pressure, the analysis looked for an association between hostility, anger, type A behaviour or depression and fasting blood glucose level.

None of the variables were associated with fasting glucose at baseline, but the prospective fasting glucose after nine years showed an increase in unmarried men with hostility, anger and type A personality traits (P=<0.001). There was no association between blood glucose level and depression.

The authors conclude that hostility, anger and type A personality appear to be independent risk factors for impaired glucose metabolism in older unmarried men.

Type A personality is typified by the decisive, competitive, workaholic traits commonly found in successful businessmen. The findings seem to run against other studies, which link depression and diabetes.

Shen B, Countryman A, Spiro A et al. The prospective contribution of hostility characteristics to high fasting glucose levels: the moderating role of marital status. Diabetes Care 2008;31:1293-8


Dr Matthew Lockyer
GP, Suffolk and hospital practitioner in diabetic medicine

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