Analyzing data for 20,000 people from across the United States, researchers found that annual death rates from all causes in men with diabetes fell to 24.4 per 1,000 from 42.6 per 1,000 - a 43 per cent reduction.
The death rate from cardiovascular disease (CVD), the most common cause of death in diabetics, fell for men to 12.8 per 1,000 from 26.4. These drops paralleled declining death rates among both men and women without diabetes in the U.S. population (down to 9.5 per 1,000 from 14.4) over the three-decade period.
Not only have mortality rates for women with diabetes not declined, but the difference in death rates for diabetic and non-diabetic women has actually widened over the three decades as females without diabetes started living longer.
The gender gap found in the U.S. diabetic population can't necessarily be extrapolated to Canada, said Toronto endocrinologist Dr. Lorraine Lipscombe.
In a study she co-authored as a researcher at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, published in March, Lipscombe said death due to the complications of diabetes in Ontario fell for both men and women between 1995 and 2005.
"In our study we did not find any difference between men and women and we found an overall decline of about 25 per cent," said Lipscombe.
Because the Ontario research contained more recent data than the U.S. study, it might reflect more current medical practices, she said. "Maybe we are getting better at taking care of women with diabetes."