Type 2 diabetics suffer ‘middle-age’ health woes such as cancer five years earlier

Type 2 diabetics suffer ‘middle-age’ health woes such as cancer, kidney disease and eyesight issues FIVE YEARS earlier, major study shows

  • Cambridge University research to be presented at Diabetes UK conference
  • Scientists tracked three million people in the UK, including type 2 diabetics
  • Found they tended to develop diseases five years earlier than in other groups 

Type 2 diabetics suffer ‘middle age’ health problems five years earlier, a major study suggests. 

A study of more than 3million people in the UK looked at over a hundred diseases of middle age, including coronary heart disease, cancer and cataracts.

Researchers found almost half of these diseases, a total of 57, were more common in people with type 2 diabetes.

Cambridge University academics found they were diagnosed with the ailments five years earlier on average, compared to people without the conditions.

Other ailments strike up to 13 years earlier in type 2 diabetic patients, the study also suggested.

The research, thought to be the largest of its kind, is to be presented at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference in London this week.  

Research to be presented at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference in London this week tracked 3million people including diabetic patients diagnosed in their 30s (stock)

Type 2 diabetes — normally caused by obesity — is the most common version of the condition. 

It causes sufferers to have high blood sugar levels, which over time can damage the blood vessels and restrict the supply of nutrients to vital areas.

The reversible condition, one of the biggest financial drains on the NHS, can lead to complications of the eyes, heart and feet. 

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood to become too high.

It can cause symptoms like excessive thirst, needing to pee a lot and tiredness. It can also increase your risk of getting serious problems with your eyes, heart and nerves.

It’s a lifelong condition that can affect your everyday life. You may need to change your diet, take medicines and have regular check-ups.

It’s caused by problems with a chemical in the body (hormone) called insulin. It’s often linked to being overweight or inactive, or having a family history of type 2 diabetes.

 Source: NHS

It costs roughly £10billion to treat every year, or 10 per cent of the UK’s entire health budget.

Around 4million Brits and 37million Americans are living with type 2 diabetes, figures suggest. 

In the study, which has not been peer-reviewed, researchers extracted data from the UK Biobank, the country’s largest store of genetic and health information.

The Cambridge University team looked at 112 medical conditions.

A total of 57 health problems, including breathing and neurological problems, were found to be more common among type 2 diabetics.

They found people with type 2 diabetes were up to five times more likely to have late stage kidney disease, cancer or eyesight issues than non-diabetics. 

Eye problems leading to blurred vision and kidney disease were most likely to strike type 2 diabetic patients early, about eight years before non-diabetics.

Heart disease and neurological problems like Parkinson’s struck six years earlier, on average.  

Dr Luanluan Sun, study co-author, said: ‘Our results suggest individuals with type 2 diabetes experience other chronic health conditions at younger ages compared to those without type 2 diabetes.

‘A higher risk of poor health was found in those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes below 50, compared to those diagnosed with the condition at an older age.

‘Preventing and delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes remains essential to reduce the likelihood of poor health in middle age.’ 

People with type 2 diabetes need to regularly check their blood sugar levels to help avoid complications including heart disease, stroke and foot problems.

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK, said: ‘The complications of diabetes can be serious and life threatening.

‘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.

‘Type 2 diabetes and the complications that can lead from it are 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 and avoid or delay complications.’


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