People with diabetes have been warned about the effects of alcohol-related complications for their long-term health.
A Finnish study has revealed a link between diabetes and an early death from alcohol-related complications, with researchers stressing more needs to be done to address addiction and psychological health in diabetes.
The University of Helsinki team analysed the health records of 434,629 Finnish people, 208,148 of whom had diabetes. They tracked them for an average of seven years and compared mortality against medications. The study team also investigated rates of suicides and accidents among the participants.
The findings revealed alcohol-related deaths, mainly cirrhosis of the liver, were as much as 10 times greater in people with diabetes, and suicides were 110% higher compared to the rest of the Finnish population.
However, while these numbers appear high, it should be noted that this accounted for 2,832 deaths relating to alcohol and 853 deaths by suicide, comparatively small numbers compared to the ratios.
As explained by lead author Professor Leo Niskaneng: “The low absolute suicidal rates makes the risk ratios look very high – even small increase in risk may thus have higher risk ratios… However, they are highly [statistically] significant anyway.”
Moreover, the small numbers of deaths in some groups increases the likelihood that the risk increase is down to chance.
However, deaths from alcohol-related conditions and suicide were more common among people taking insulin, and the researchers have warned that this association needs more consideration.
Prof Niskaneng added: “This study has highlighted that there is a need for effective psychological support for people with diabetes. If [people with diabetes] feel like they are under a heavy mental burden or consider that their use of alcohol is excessive, they should not hesitate to discuss these issues with their primary care physician.”
The findings have been published in the European Journal of Endocrinology.
Editor’s note: If you think you are struggling with your alcohol intake, and that this is related to your diabetes and making your diabetes control worse, then you should visit your doctor or healthcare professional. Additionally, if you are struggling with your diabetes management irrespective of alcohol, talk to your GP and visit our Diabetes Forum.

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