Insulin Resistance in South Asians
What is insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance is when fat, muscle, and liver cells in lose the ability to respond to insulin. This makes it difficult for these cells to break down glucose (or sugar).
As a result, the pancreas releases more insulin into the bloodstream. This leads to high levels of insulin, and several other problems, such as:
- Raises bad cholesterol levels
- Lowers good cholesterol levels
- Raises blood pressure
- Causes diabetes
- Makes it easier for blood to clot.
For South Asians, these risk factors also increase the likelihood of developing coronary artery disease. You don't have to have diabetes to be at risk for cardiovascular disease.
Insulin resistance in South Asians
The reason why South Asians are more insulin resistant than other ethnic groups is unclear. Compared with other races, experts think South Asians may have:
- More hidden fat
- Lower fitness levels
- A genetic link to insulin resistance
At Stanford, we are conducting NIH-funded research to learn more about insulin resistance in South Asians.