Is dietary zinc protective for type 2 diabetes? Results from the Australian longitudinal study on women's health

Khanrin P. Vashum, Mark McEvoy, Zumin Shi, Abul H. Milton, Md R. Islam, David Sibbritt, Amanda Patterson, Julie Byles, Deborah Loxton, John Attia

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Background: Animal studies have shown that zinc intake has protective effects against type 2 diabetes, but few studies have been conducted to examine this relationship in humans. The aim of this study is to investigate if dietary zinc is associated with risk of type 2 diabetes in a longitudinal study of mid-age Australian women. Methods: Data were collected from a cohort of women aged 45-50 years at baseline, participating in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. A validated food frequency questionnaire was used to assess dietary intake and other nutrients. Predictors of 6-year incidence of type 2 diabetes were examined using multivariable logistic regression. Results: From 8921 participants, 333 incident cases of type 2 diabetes were identified over 6 years of follow-up. After adjustment for dietary and non-dietary factors, the highest quintile dietary zinc intake had almost half the odds of developing type 2 diabetes (OR = 0.50, 95% C.I. 0.32-0.77) compared with the lowest quintile. Similar findings were observed for the zinc/iron ratio; the highest quintile had half the odds of developing type 2 diabetes (OR = 0.50, 95% C.I 0.30-0.83) after multivariable adjustment of covariates. Conclusions: Higher total dietary zinc intake and high zinc/iron ratio are associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes in women. This finding is a positive step towards further research to determine if zinc supplementation may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number40
JournalBMC Endocrine Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2013


  • Australia
  • Diabetes
  • Women & Zinc

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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