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Defeat Diabetes
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Earlier Screening for Diabetes Worthwhile

Posted: Sunday, June 06, 2010

It's currently recommended that people be screened for Type 2 diabetes starting at age 45, particularly if they are overweight. But a new study suggests that it would be worthwhile to start Type 2 diabetes screening earlier -- between the ages of 30 and 45.

Sequential screening for Type 2 diabetes is cost effective when started between the ages of 30 and 45 years and repeated every 3 to 5 years, researchers conclude in a report published this week in The Lancet medical journal.

Dr. Richard Kahn, from the American Diabetes Association, Alexandria, Virginia, and associates used a mathematical model to compare seven screening strategies (with start times ranging from age 30 to age 60 or upon diagnosis of high blood pressure, and repeated every 3 to 5 years until age 75) to no screening or maximum screening (every 6 months starting at age 30).

For the study, the researchers simulated a population of 325,000 non-diabetic 30-year-olds. The model showed that Type 2 diabetes screening starting at 30 or 45 years of age is cost-effective and may curb heart attacks, diabetes-related complications and death.

Aside from no screening at all, screening that started upon detection of high blood pressure is least effective.

So, in general, Kahn recommends initiation of screening sometime between the ages of 30 and 45, then continuing every 3 to 5 years.

Within that range, he said, "Doctors should pick whatever they feel most comfortable doing."

"To make it simple and to remind people when to get screened, they may want to do it (when they) screen for cholesterol, starting at age 45 then every 5 years," he added.

On the other hand, he said, people with obesity and/or a family history of diabetes should probably be started "a little earlier, but not at 25."

It's estimated that 5.7 million Americans currently have Type 2 diabetes and don't know it.

Source:, ADA May 2010

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