- People with type 2 diabetes were at higher risk of developing 57 health conditions compared with non-diabetics, a study found.
- To get the results, Cambridge University researchers analyzed data from 3 million people in the UK.
- The study, yet to be peer-reviewed, will be presented at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference on Tuesday.
A study of people with type 2
found that those with the condition were at a higher risk of developing up to 57 other health conditions compared with those who were not diabetic.
were 5.2 times more likely to have end-stage kidney disease, 4.4 times more likely to get liver cancer and 3.2 times more likely to develop a sight-threatening condition called macular degeneration, the scientists from Cambridge University said in a press release Tuesday.
The study found that those with type 2 diabetes developed the conditions, on average, five years earlier than people who didn’t have type 2 diabetes. The risks of developing circulatory, genitourinary, neurological and eye conditions were also “much higher” for people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes under the age of 50 than those diagnosed at “a later age,” the authors of the study said.
More than 37 million Americans have diabetes, of whom up to 95% have type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
It usually occurs in people older than 45, but increasing numbers of younger people are developing it, according to the CDC, in part due to increasing rates of obesity, which makes people far more vulnerable to the condition.
dr Luanluan Sun, study co-lead and former clinical epidemiologist at Cambridge University, said delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes was “essential” to cut the risk of poor health in middle age.
dr Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK, said the study’s findings were “a strong reminder of the extensive and serious long-term effects of diabetes on the body.”
“The complications of diabetes can be serious and life threatening,” she said.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition where there is too much sugar in the blood because the body can’t regulate it properly due to problems with a hormone called insulin — either there isn’t enough of it, or it can’t work properly.
Most complications occur due to blood vessel damage in the major organs — most commonly the eyes, kidneys, heart, blood pressure, feet, and nervous system — which is made worse by poorly controlled blood sugar levels. There’s no cure for the condition, but it can be treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity. Medications or insulin injections may also be required.
Diabetes UK’s Robertson said that type 2 diabetes and its complications were not “inevitable”.
“That’s why it’s so important that people at increased risk of type 2 diabetes are supported to reduce their risk, and that those living with the condition have continued access to routine care and support to manage it well,” she said.
The scientists used data from the UK Biobank and UK Clinical Practice Research from 3 million people in the UK to examine the link between diabetes and 116 health conditions that people normally get in middle age.
The study is the most comprehensive of its kind, according to the researchers, and will be presented at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2022 Tuesday. It has not yet been published or formally scrutinized by other experts.