Posted on Oct 03, 2023, 6 p.m.
According to recent research published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, those getting diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (T2D) at the age of 30 could see their life expectancy decrease by as much as 14 years. Even those with a diagnosis at 50 years old could see their life expectancy decrease by 6 years, based on the analysis of data from 19 high-income countries, highlighting the importance of developing interventions to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.
The prevalence of diabetes among younger adults is increasing at a rapid rate, globally. This increase is likely being hastened by the increasing levels of obesity, poor diet, and increased sedentary behavior driving a number of metabolic conditions to rise worldwide. T2D increases the risk of experiencing a range of complications such as stroke, heart attack, certain cancers, and kidney problems, among other complications.
Scientists from the University of Cambridge and the University of Glasgow examined data from two major international studies comprising a total of 1.5 million people (the UK Biobank and the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration). The researchers found that the majority of the life expectancy reductions associated with diabetes were due to vascular deaths related to conditions such as aneurysms, heart attacks, stroke, and other complications like cancer.
Using this data it was estimated that those with type 2 diabetes diagnosed at ages 30, 40, and 50 years old died on average 14, 10, and 6 years earlier, respectively than those without the condition. However, gender-wise, the estimates were higher for women who died 16, 11, and 7 years earlier compared to men at 14, 9, and 5 years earlier than those without diabetes. The earlier the diagnosis, the greater the reduction in their life expectancy, overall every decade of earlier diagnosis was associated with around 4 years of decreased life expectancy. These findings are similar to an analysis using EU data corresponding with estimates of 13, 9, and 5 years earlier death on average.
“Type 2 diabetes can be prevented if those at greatest risk can be identified and offered support – whether that’s to make changes to their behaviour or to provide medication to lower their risk. But there are also structural changes that we as a society should be pursuing, including relating to food manufacturing, changes to the built environment to encourage more physical activity, and so on,” said Dr Stephen Kaptoge, also from the VPD-HLRI. “Given the impact type 2 diabetes will have on people’s lives, preventing – or at least delaying the onset – of the condition should be an urgent priority.”
“Our findings support the idea that the younger an individual is when they develop type 2 diabetes, the more damage their body accumulates from its impaired metabolism. But the findings also suggest that early detection of diabetes by screening followed by intensive glucose management could help prevent long-term complications from the condition,” added Professor Naveed Sattar from the Institute of Cardiovascular & Medical Sciences, University of Glasgow.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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