Common condition before you're 30 'slashes your life expectancy by 14 years' | The Sun
3rd October 2023

BEING diagnosed with type 2 diabetes before you’re 30 could slash your life expectancy by 14 years, a study shows.

The condition is becoming increasingly common in younger people, putting their lives at risk, University of Cambridge researchers warned.

People at greater risk should be spotted and given support to help prevent them losing years of their life, they said.

Professor Emanuele Di Angelantonio said: “Type 2 diabetes used to be seen as a disease that affected older adults, but we’re increasingly seeing people diagnosed earlier in life. 

“As we’ve shown, this means they are at risk of a much shorter life expectancy than they would otherwise have.”

Figures from Diabetes UK show that more 4.3 million people in the UK have diabetes but around 850,000 are yet to be diagnosed.

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The NHS spends at least £10billion annually on the disease — around 10 per cent of its entire budget.

Type 2 diabetes causes blood sugar levels to become too high because of problems with how the body produces the hormone insulin, which breaks down glucose.

It can lead to deadly complications, including kidney problems, cancer, heart attack and stroke.

Previous research has suggested that adults with type 2 diabetes die six years earlier than adults without it on average.

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The latest study, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, looked to see how this average reduction in life expectancy varies according to age at diagnosis.

Researchers looked at health records from 1.5million people across the world, including in the UK, US and EU.

The earlier patients were diagnosed with diabetes, the higher their risk of death compared to people without the condition.

A 50-year-old adult would die 14 years earlier on average if they were diagnosed at 30 compared to someone who did not have diabetes.

They would die 10 years earlier if diagnosed at 40 and six years earlier if diagnosed at 50, analysis showed.

Dr Stephen Kaptoge said: “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.

“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.”

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