Screening for undiagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes may not lower the risk of death in the general population as previously thought, according to a new study published in the journal The Lancet.
Dr Simon Griffi, from the MRC Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, and colleagues examined more than 20,000 adults in East England aged between 40 and 69 who were randomly assigned to three groups – two diabetes screening groups and one control group with no screening .
Patients in the screening groups at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes were tested for the condition, and of these 2.9 per cent were diagnosed with the disease .
After following up all of the 20,000-plus patients for a period of nearly 10 years, the researchers found that the total number of deaths among those screened was no lower than in control group. They also reported no significant difference between the groups in the rates of mortality specifically from cardiovascular conditions, cancer or diabetes-related causes.
The findings go against several previous studies which had suggested that widespread testing for diabetes would be effective at reducing deaths from any cause.
Dr. Griffin said: “Our study was the first robust evaluation of diabetes screening, and the results suggest its effectiveness may have been overestimated.”
“Based on our findings, screening is only likely to benefit the small minority of people living with undiagnosed diabetes and is unlikely to reduce deaths in the general population.”
He added: “While this doesn’t necessarily mean that screening for diabetes is invalid, it does suggest that tackling the diabetes epidemic is likely to require a more holistic approach using a combination of preventative strategies aimed at detecting and treating the disease early and reducing the risk of it developing in the first place.”

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