your connection to The Boston Globe

Men's diabetes deaths decline

WASHINGTON -- The death rate for men with diabetes has fallen sharply in the United States since the early 1970s even as more people develop the disease, but women are not making the same progress, researchers said yesterday.

The researchers speculated that women might not be getting the same care for heart disease as men. Diabetes is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.

Researchers tracked about 27,000 people ages 35 to 74 in three national databases during three time periods from 1971 to 2000.

Death rates from all causes for men with diabetes dropped from 42.6 per 1,000 people annually from 1971 to 1986, to 24.4 per 1,000 in the period from 1988 to 2000, the study found. Their deaths from cardiovascular disease, the biggest killer of diabetics, fell dramatically.

"Among men, we see very encouraging trends in death rates among the diabetic population," Edward Gregg, an epidemiologist with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and lead author of the study, said in a telephone interview.

"Men with diabetes have a 40 percent lower mortality rate than they did 30 years ago," added Gregg, whose research was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

Women with diabetes, however, showed no improvement. Gregg said women might not have received the same comprehensive preventive care against threats such as cardiovascular disease.

The death rate for female diabetics from all causes was 18.4 per 1,000 during the 1971 to 1986 period, and then fell to 15.1 per 1,000 during an intermediate 1976 to 1992 period before hitting 25.9 per 1,000 during the 1988 to 2000 period.