Having type 2 diabetes as an adult makes you seven times more likely to develop tuberculosis (TB), according to new research.
The study, conducted at Townsville Hospital in Queensland, Australia, recommends screening all diabetes patients for tuberculosis, even in parts of the world where TB is scarce.
The researchers examined the medical data of 69 Australian patients, all of whom had TB at some point between 1995 and 2014. Within this group of TB patients, 23 per cent also developed type 2 diabetes.
The researchers then compared this data to that of the general population and found a strong association between diabetes and tuberculosis. Patients with diabetes were seven times more likely to have tuberculosis.
“You can have TB your whole life and not know it, but if you suffer from diabetes and your immune system is not functioning well, it can flare up,” said Robert Norto, MD.
The researchers did not find that type 2 diabetes is a cause of tuberculosis, or the other way around; they only discovered a correlation between the two. More research is needed to properly understand the link between diabetes and tuberculosis.
Norton stressed the importance of screening diabetes patients for TB.
“It is especially important because the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing at a very significant pace.”
The research was published in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

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