A simple test such as the strength of your handgrip could be used as a quick, low-cost screening tool to help healthcare professionals identify patients at risk of type 2 diabetes.

Scientists at the universities of Bristol and Eastern Finland measured the muscular handgrip strength of 776 men and women without a history of diabetes over a 20-year period and demonstrated that the risk of type 2 diabetes was reduced by around 50% for every unit increase in handgrip strength value. 

The research published in Annals of Medicine found that the association persisted even after taking into account several established factors that can affect type 2 diabetes such as age, family history of diabetes, physical activity, smoking, hypertension, waist circumference and fasting plasma glucose.

When information on handgrip strength was added to these established factors which are already known to predict type 2 diabetes, the prediction of type 2 diabetes improved further.

Higher handgrip strength reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

Until recently, there was inconsistent evidence on the relationship between handgrip strength and type 2 diabetes. In a recent literature review of ten published studies on the topic the same researchers demonstrated that people with higher values of handgrip strength had a 27% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Lead author Dr Setor Kunutsor from Bristol's Musculoskeletal Research Unit, said: "These findings may have implications for the development of type 2 diabetes prevention strategies. Assessment of handgrip is simple, inexpensive and does not require very skilled expertise and resources and could potentially be used in the early identification of individuals at high risk of future type 2 diabetes."

Importantly, the findings appeared to be marked in women compared to men in sex-specific analyses, suggesting that women are likely to benefit from the use of this potential screening tool.

Principal investigator, Professor Jari Laukkanen from the University of Eastern Finland, added: "These results are based on a Finnish population. Given the low number of events in our analyses, we propose larger studies to replicate these findings in other populations and specifically in men and women."

The authors add that further research is needed to establish whether efforts to improve muscle strength such as resistance training are likely to reduce an individual's risk of type 2 diabetes.

 


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