February 28, 2008

Freeze Your Way to Diabetes

Filed under: Evolution and You — Sharon Moalem @ 12:13 pm


In a previous post, I wrote about Rana sylvatica a type of frog that can increase their sugar levels to survive the cold. Being a rather blisteringly cold day today made me think about my blood sugar level. A few years back I proposed in a paper* that some of us may be predisposed to having diabetes – higher sugar levels or insulin resistance like conditions – because it may have helped our ancestors survive the cold.

Well my hypothesis got a big boost recently with a study that published some interesting findings regarding some versions of genes, such as ones that predispose you to Metabolic Syndrome, and cold climates. Being at greater increase for metabolic syndrome also puts you at a greater risk for increased blood sugar levels and diabetes.

Having higher blood sugar levels, is exactly what I proposed would protect populations from inclement cold weather, at least in the short term. The problem is that you end up paying for it dearly in the long run with all the complications that can arise, especially today given the fact that most people have the luxury of central heating.

* For more info on the Diabetes-Cold Weather connection see the following NYT article. on my ideas.

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