Type 2 Diabetes Can Shorten Life by Up to 14 Years

Type 2 Diabetes Can Shorten Life by Up to 14 Years
By Andrew Luer
Category: Diabetes

Being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 30 could lead to a reduction in life expectancy of up to 14 years. Analysis of data from 19 affluent countries revealed that individuals diagnosed at 50 years of age could lose up to six years of life expectancy.

A new study, reported in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, emphasizes the critical need for strategies to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes, especially given the increasing incidence among younger adults here in America as well as worldwide.

The surge in type 2 diabetes cases globally is attributed to rising obesity rates, poor nutrition, and a lack of physical activity. In 2021, approximately 537 million adults globally were estimated to have diabetes, with a growing number diagnosed at younger ages.

Type 2 diabetes heightens the risk of several health issues, including heart disease, kidney complications, cancer, and as we have reported, Alzheimer’s disease. While previous research indicated that individuals with type 2 diabetes generally die six years earlier than those without, the impact of age at diagnosis on life expectancy reduction remained unclear.

A collaborative study by the University of Cambridge and University of Glasgow, analyzing data from over 1.5 million people, found that being diagnosed with diabetes at an earlier age significantly lowers life expectancy. For every ten years earlier that diabetes is diagnosed, life expectancy is reduced by approximately four years.

In the United States, individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at ages 30, 40, and 50 years died roughly 14, 10, and 6 years earlier, respectively, than those without diabetes. This impact was slightly greater in women than men.

Similar findings were observed in European data, with life expectancy reduced by about 13, 9, or 5 years, respectively.

Professor Emanuele Di Angelantonio highlighted that type 2 diabetes, increasingly diagnosed in younger individuals, significantly shortens life expectancy. Dr. Stephen Kaptoge emphasized the importance of prevention and societal changes to combat diabetes.

The study also noted that vascular deaths largely account for the reduction in life expectancy associated with diabetes, along with other complications such as cancer. Professor Naveed Sattar suggested that early diabetes detection and intensive management could mitigate long-term complications.

I am all for early detection. But once again, we should be talking about prevention. It’s clear that risk for diabetes is increased with higher consumption of ultra-processed foods as well as lack of physical activity. To that list, we could add having a higher uric acid level and consumption of sugar itself. This is why we published an Op-Ed in MedPage Today asking president to lower the USDA’s acceptable amount of sugar in the daily diet from 10 grams to 5.

But, it’s challenging to compete with the incredible influence of the manufacturers of these threatening foods. Bottom line, it’s up to us to make better choices.

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