Potassium Level Tied to African-American Diabetes Risk

African-Americans have lower serum potassium concentrations, higher type 2 diabetes risk

MONDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Low serum potassium concentrations found in African-Americans may be a contributing factor to their increased risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a study published online March 2 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Ranee Chatterjee, M.D., M.P.H., from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed data collected between 1987 and 1996 from 2,716 African-American and 9,493 white participants without diabetes in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. The relative hazards (RHs) of incident type 2 diabetes among these patients relative to baseline serum potassium were estimated during the nine years of study.

The researchers found that African-Americans had significantly lower mean serum potassium concentrations than whites at baseline, and that African-American patients had a greater incidence of diabetes. Incident diabetes for those with serum potassium concentrations of less than 4.0, 4.0 to 4.4, and 4.5 to 4.9 compared with 5.0 to 5.5 milliequivalent per liter had an RH of 2.28, 1.97, and 1.85, respectively, for African-Americans; and 1.53, 1.49, and 1.27 for whites, respectively. Serum potassium concentration and increased body mass index were significant mediators of the association between race and type 2 diabetes risk, accounting for 18.0 and 22.4 percent, respectively.

"We found that low normal serum potassium is associated with a greater risk of incident diabetes and with greater relative risks in African-Americans than in whites," the authors write.

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