It’s almost old news amongst informed researchers that First Nations adults with diabetes have more than double the risk of end-stage kidney disease compared to non-First Nations adults. But a group of researchers from the University of Saskatchewan have now discovered why and the answer might surprise you. It’s because First Nations individuals are, on average, almost 15 years younger when they are diagnosed with diabetes.
“The main point of the study isn’t the higher risk of end-stage renal disease amongst First Nations,” says Dr. Roland Dyck, senior author of the study, University of Saskatchewan researcher and research affiliate with the Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre (IPHRC). “What we have done is show an important reason for why First Nations have this higher risk. Simply put, because First Nations people develop diabetes at a much younger age than non-First Nations people, they are more likely to live long enough to develop end-stage kidney failure.”
To unravel the mystery of high rates of end-stage renal failure amongst the First Nations population, researchers examined 90,000 adult diabetes cases in Saskatchewan spanning a period of over 25 years (1980 to 2005) and found that the mean age of diabetes diagnosis for First Nations patients was 47.2 years compared to 61.6 years for non-First Nations patients.
"The implications of our findings are sobering," write the authors. "Among First Nations adults, type 2 diabetes is increasingly occurring during younger decades of life. Among First Nations children, the prevalence of diabetes tripled between 1980 and 2005, and the offspring of these individuals are in turn experiencing an even higher risk of childhood type 2 diabetes.”
“Major improvements in the prevention and treatment of this disease are needed now,” says Dyck. “Without them, this pattern will likely translate into increasing numbers of First Nations people with diabetes-related end-stage renal disease and possibly other chronic diabetic complications.”
For more information on the actual study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), please visit the following links:
For more information or to speak with Dr. Roland Dyck, please contact:
Cassandra Opikokew (PhD Candidate)
Indigenous Peoples’ Health Research Centre (IPHRC)
Cell: (306) 537-2043Email: Cassandra.Opikokew@uregina.ca