Health experts say the results of a major study which found that type 2 diabetes leads to a greater risk of dozens of other conditions must act as “stark reminder” about the effects diabetes can have.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have reported that type 2 diabetes – which is linked to being overweight or having a family history of the condition – puts you more at risk of developing cancer, kidney disease and neurological illnesses.

The team looked at the health data of three million people over the age of 30, both with and without type 2 diabetes. They found that those with type 2 diabetes experienced other long-term conditions five years earlier on average than those without.

The findings, which are being presented at the Diabetes UK professional conference, showed that having type 2 diabetes was linked to a 9% greater risk of cancer.

It also showed that people with the condition are:

  • 2 times more likely to have end-stage kidney disease
  • 4 times more likely to have liver cancer
  • 2 times more likely to have macular degeneration.

It was also linked to a 2.6 times higher risk of neurological issues and a 2.3 times higher risk of eye problems, as well as a 1.8 times higher risk of mental ill health.

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, the director of research at Diabetes UK, commented: “This study illustrates in alarming detail the unacceptable prevalence of poor health in middle-aged people with type 2 diabetes, and is a stark reminder of the extensive and serious long-term effects of diabetes on the body.

“That’s why it’s so important that people at increased risk of type 2 diabetes are supported to reduce their risk, and that those living with the condition have continued access to routine care and support to manage it well and avoid or delay complications.”

Dr Luanluan Sun, who co-led the research in her previous role as a clinical epidemiologist at the University of Cambridge, said the findings demonstrate how “essential” it is that type 2 diabetes is prevented or delayed.

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