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Skin Condition IDs Type 2 Diabetes

People With Acanthosis Nigricans Likely to Have Type 2 Diabetes
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 4, 2007 -- People with the skin condition acanthosis nigricans are at high risk of type 2 diabetes, researchers find.

People with acanthosis nigricans have velvety, brown to black patches of skin on the back of the neck, the armpit, and elbows, and/or the knees.

The condition is most common in obese people and in those whose bodies overproduce insulin. Those are two risk factors for diabetes. So does acanthosis nigricans predict diabetes?

Likely, find Alberta S. Kong, MD, MPH, and colleagues at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Kong's team surveyed 96 doctors who reported data from 1,133 patients seen during the same two-week period.

The doctors looked for three risk factors for diabetes -- being overweight or obese, having family members with diabetes, and having high blood pressure. Sure enough, the more diabetes risk factors a person had, the better the chance that person had acanthosis nigricans.

Children and adults with acanthosis nigricans were twice as likely to have diabetes as were those without the skin condition.

Children and teens aged 7 to 19 with acanthosis nigricans were 8.3 times more likely to have at least two diabetes risk factors as were those without the condition.

Adults aged 20 to 39 with acanthosis nigricans were 4.2 times more likely to have at least two diabetes risk factors as were those without the condition.

"Acanthosis nigricans can be used to rapidly identify those patients with multiple risk factors for type 2 diabetes mellitus," Kong and colleagues conclude.

The study findings appear in the May/June issue of Annals of Family Medicine.

Do you think you may be at risk? Talk about it on the WebMD Skin Care message board.

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