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Schizophrenia May Cause Type 2 Diabetes, New Study Finds

ThePeople with schizophrenia tend to die up to 30 years earlier than the general population. Many of these untimely deaths are due to physical disorders, including heart attack and stroke, for which diabetes is a major risk factor.

Antipsychotic medications are known to increase the risk of form 2 diabetes, but there are other things that stimulate schizophrenics particularly susceptible to the ailment, including poor diet and a lack of exercising. However, our latest examine found that the risk of developing diabetes in people with schizophrenia remains high even when we take these factors into account.

People with long-term schizophrenia are three times more likely than the general population to have diabetes. The link between schizophrenia and diabetes was first induced back in the 19 th century. This was long before the use of antipsychotics, and in an era when diets were less likely to cause diabetes. This could suggest that there is a causative link between schizophrenia and diabetes.

Our study examined whether diabetes risk is already raised during people at the onset of schizophrenia before theyve started taking antipsychotic narcotics or when theyve only just started taking them.

We pooled data regarding multiple studies that analyzed evidence of diabetic risk in blood samples from people with early schizophrenia prescribed little or no antipsychotic medication. Diabetes is characterised by elevated blood glucose. The higher the level of glucose in the blood, the highest the risk of diabetes.

We demonstrated that compared with healthy someones, people with schizophrenia had higher levels of glucose in the blood. We also looked at high levels of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that triggers the movement of glucose from blood into tissue. Created insulin levels are seen in type 2 diabetes. We demonstrated higher levels of insulin, and increased levels of insulin resistance in people with early schizophrenia.

Hints of a direct role of schizophrenia in diabetes

These results remained statistically significant even when we limited our analysis to surveys where people with schizophrenia were matched to healthy controls with regards their diet, the amount of exert they engaged in and their ethnic background. This suggests that our results were not wholly driven by differences in lifestyle factors or ethnicity between the two groups, and may therefore point towards a direct role for schizophrenia in increasing danger of diabetes.

There are several factors that could increase the likelihood of developing both conditions. These include a shared genetic hazard, as well as shared developmental risk factors. For example, premature birth and low birth weight are recognised as risk factors for the development of both schizophrenia and diabetes later in life. Created high levels of the stress hormone cortisol is also a risk factor for diabetes. It is possible that the stress associated with developing schizophrenia, which assures levels of cortisol rise, may also contribute to higher diabetic risk.

These findings are a wake-up call that we need to rethink the link between diabetes and schizophrenia and start prevention right from the onset of schizophrenia. It is a case of treating the mind and the body right from the start.

Toby Pillinger, Doctor and Clinical Researcher, King’s College London

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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