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Full extent of type 2 diabetes impact on health exposed

Type 2 diabetes patients face some health issues earlier in their lives than other people.

People with type 2 diabetes experience some long-term health conditions five years earlier, on average, than those without diabetes, according to research presented at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference.

Data from 3 million people aged 30 years and over (average age 50 years) were examined to determine the link between type 2 diabetes and 116 common chronic non-communicable conditions. Type 2 diabetes was linked to a higher incidence of 57 chronic conditions.

For instance, people with type 2 diabetes had a higher risk of 23 of 31 circulatory conditions and were:

  • 5.2 times more likely to have end-stage kidney disease
  • 4.4 times more likely to have liver cancer
  • 3.2 times more likely to have macular degeneration. 

The highest risk was for conditions affecting the genitourinary system (2.6 times higher risk than people without diabetes); neurological system (2.6 times); eyes (2.3 times); digestive system (1.9 times); mental health (1.8 times); and circulatory system (1.6 times).

The risks of developing circulatory, genito-urinary, neurological and eye conditions were much higher for people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when younger than 50 years compared with those diagnosed when older. 

“This study illustrates in alarming detail the unacceptable prevalence of poor health in middle-aged people with type 2 diabetes, and is a stark reminder of the extensive and serious long-term effects of diabetes on the body,” said Dr Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK.

Covid increases risk of diabetes

Covid-19 increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to research published in Diabetologia. German researchers followed 35,865 individuals with Covid-19 (March 2020 to January 2021 – before omicron) and the same number of controls with acute upper respiratory tract infections for medians of 119 and 161 days respectively.

Covid-19 patients showed an increased incidence of type 2 diabetes compared with controls: 15.8 and 12.3 per 1,000 person-years respectively. After allowing for confounders, Covid-19 was associated with a 28 per cent increased incidence and the increased risk persisted throughout follow-up. Covid-19 did not increase the incidence of other types of diabetes.


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