Most of us know that diabetics have a much higher rate of mortality caused by heart attack and stroke, but new research shows it also increases cancer risk by 25%, and heightened the risk of death from infection, kidney and liver disease.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says up to a third of U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050 they continue to gain weight and shun exercise. Roughly a staggering one million new cases or diabetes occur each year, and diabetes is the direct or indirect cause of at least 200,000 deaths annually.
Emanuele Di Angelantonio of Britain's Cambridge University, who worked on the study as part of an international collaboration states:
"These findings highlight even more the need to prevent diabetes and to understand it better. They show that diabetes is not only a cardiovascular risk factor, but is linked as well to other conditions."
Among the biggest cancer risks for diabetics were liver and pancreatic cancer, colorectal or bowel cancer, and lung cancer according to the New England Journal of Medicine study.
Damage to the retina from diabetes (diabetic retinopathy) is a leading cause of blindness. Kidney damage from diabetes (diabetic nephropathy) is a leading cause of kidney failure.
Damage to the nerves from diabetes (diabetic neuropathy) is a leading cause of foot wounds and ulcers, which frequently lead to foot and leg amputations. Nerves in the autonomic nervous system can lead to paralysis of the stomach (gastroparesis), chronic diarrhea, and an inability to control heart rate and blood pressure during postural changes.
Diabetes predisposes people to high blood pressure and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These conditions independently and together with hyperglycemia increase the risk of heart disease, kidney disease, and other blood vessel complications.
Hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, occurs from time to time in most people with diabetes. It results from taking too much diabetes medication or insulin (sometimes called an insulin reaction), missing a meal, doing more exercise than usual, drinking too much alcohol, or taking certain medications for other conditions. It is very important to recognize hypoglycemia and be prepared to treat it at all times. Headache, feeling dizzy, poor concentration, tremors of hands, and sweating are common symptoms of hypoglycemia. You can faint or have a seizure if blood sugar level gets too low.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious condition in which uncontrolled hyperglycemia (usually due to complete lack of insulin or a relative deficiency of insulin) over time creates a buildup in the blood of acidic waste products called ketones. High levels of ketones can be very harmful. This typically happens to people with type 1 diabetes who do not have good blood glucose control. Diabetic ketoacidosis can be precipitated by infection, stress, trauma, missing medications like insulin, or medical emergencies like stroke and heart attack.
Hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome is another serious condition in which the blood sugar level gets very high. The body tries to get rid of the excess blood sugar by eliminating it in the urine. This increases the amount of urine significantly and often leads to dehydration so severe that it can cause seizures, coma, and even death. This syndrome typically occurs in people with type 2 diabetes who are not controlling their blood sugar levels, who have become dehydrated, or who have stress, injury, stroke, or are taking certain medications, like steroids.
The study did not look at why death rates were higher among diabetics, so the researchers could not say whether diabetes link was simply a proxy for generally poorer health.
Stephen Holgate of Britain's Medical Research Council concluded:
"Preventing diabetes becomes that much easier when we have a complete picture of the debilitating effect it has across the body and we know what steps to take to mitigate the damage."
Source: The New England Journal of Medicine
Written by Sy Kraft, B.A.