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Mechanism Behind Diabetes Risk Difference Revealed in Sex Study

Update Date: Mar 17, 2015 06:01 PM EDT

Obese men are significantly more likely than obese women to develop type two diabetes. While this has been proven by numerous studies, researchers from McMaster University have, for the first time, discovered evidence that the difference in risk is related to the activity of a muscle protein that differentiates between men and women.

Researchers found that the activity of a protein called PTEN reacts differently between men and women. They explained that active PTEN prevents insulin from signaling properly in muscle. This in turn reduces the amount of sugar a muscle uses, which increases the risk of developing type two diabetes.

"In our study, women's muscle appeared more efficient in neutralizing this protein, and this allows insulin to work better to move sugar from circulation to muscle," lead author Dr. M. Constantine Samaan, assistant professor of pediatrics at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and pediatric endocrinologist at the McMaster Children's Hospital, said in a news release.

"This protein is one explanation of why women are relatively protected from type two diabetes, despite having more body fat content compared to men at a given weight," Samaan concluded.

The latest findings were published in the journal Scientific Report.

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