This week at the collaborative blog Nothing in Biology Makes Sense!, Jon Yoder (my brother) takes a look at the possible evolutionary origins of type II diabetes from his perspective as a medical student:
Currently, around 285 million people worldwide are affected and that number could potentially climb to 430 million by the year 2030. Diabetes also accounts for 12% of all health care expenditure. It is also a highly genetically associated disease, at least Type 2 Diabetes. Now, in type 2 diabetes the individual will have high levels of circulating insulin. Insulin is a key regulator of fat storage. It is released following meals in response to glucose from the meal and stimulates the uptake of that glucose into liver, muscle and fat. It also acts to antagonize other hormones that would breakdown and use the stored glucose as energy. So, this is where I got to thinking, if there is a gene that is linked evolutionarily to helping survive famine, is there a potential link between such genes and diabetes.
To find out more, go read the whole thing.◼