Diabetes Shortens Human Lifespan By Nine Years

In China, diabetics will die an average of nine years before their healthy peers, study estimates.

AsianScientist (Jan. 31, 2017) – Diabetes lowers life expectancy by an average of nine years, according to a study of adults in China. These findings have been published in JAMA.

Most previous studies of diabetes have been in high-income countries where individuals with diabetes are generally well managed. In China the prevalence of diabetes has quadrupled in recent decades, with an estimated 100 million adults now affected. Because the increase in diabetes prevalence in China is only recent, the full eventual effect on mortality is unknown.

In the present study, a team led by Peking University’s Professor Li Liming examined the association of diabetes with mortality in China. Their study included 512,869 adults ages 30 to 79 years from ten (five rural and five urban) areas scattered throughout China, who were recruited between 2004 and 2008 and followed up for cause-specific mortality until 2014.

Among the participants, six percent had diabetes (four percent in rural areas, eight percent in urban areas; three percent had been previously diagnosed, and three percent were detected by screening). The researchers found that, compared with adults without diabetes, individuals with diabetes had twice the risk of dying during the follow-up period, and the increase was higher in rural areas than in urban areas.

Diabetes was associated with increased mortality from ischemic heart disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, infection, and cancer of the liver, pancreas and female breast. The risk of dying from inadequately treated acute complications of diabetes (diabetic ketoacidosis or coma) was much greater in rural areas than in urban areas, and was much higher than in high-income countries.

The researchers estimated that the 25-year probability of death would be 69 percent among those diagnosed with diabetes at age 50 years compared with 38 percent among otherwise similar individuals without diabetes, corresponding to a loss of about nine years of life (ten years in rural areas and eight years in urban areas).

“As the prevalence of diabetes in young adults increases and the adult population grows, the annual number of deaths related to diabetes is likely to continue to increase, unless there is substantial improvement in prevention and management,” the authors write.

The article can be found at: Bragg et al. (2017) Association Between Diabetes and Cause-Specific Mortality in Rural and Urban Areas of China.


Source: JAMA Network Journals; Photo: Shutterstock.
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