Women with diabetes are almost twice as likely to suffer premature death, according to new research.
The metabolic disease shortens their lives by an average of five years – six months more than for male peers. This triples to 15 years if she also smokes.
A 10-year study found a dramatic gender gap in mortality rates – 96 and 74 percent. Type 2 diabetes was assumed to have a greater effect on men’s health.
Lead author Dr. Adrian Heald, of Salford Royal Hospital in the U.K., said the finding came as a shock.
“A woman with type 2 diabetes for example, might live five years less than the average woman in the general population, while someone diagnosed at a younger age might lose eight years of life expectancy.”
Type 2 diabetes, the form linked to unhealthy lifestyles, is more common in men. It can lead to serious complications, such as amputations, heart disease and kidney failure.
Heald and his associates worked out the life expectancies of almost 12,000 local patients over a decade, comparing them to the general population matched for age and sex.
The analysis showed a woman with Type 2 diabetes had a 60 percent increased chance of early death and will live five years less than a peer in the general population.
“Our modelling suggests type 2 diabetes has a greater effect on the life expectancy of women, smokers and those diagnosed at a younger age,” Heald said.
The condition usually occurs in older people. But onset at a younger age is becoming more common globally, with a rise in obesity the main driver.
The study found smoking shortens the life expectancy of people with Type 2 diabetes by 10 years – and diagnosis before the age of 65 by over eight years.
Heald added that: “It is vital the groups at the highest risk are made aware of not just the increased risk that they face but also the size of the risk. Doing so may make the health advice they are given seem more relevant and so help them make changes that can improve their quality – and length – of life.”
Diabetes is known to increase the risk of premature death by up to 70 percent. But little is known about how demographic and lifestyle factors might have further impact.
The average age of participants was 66 and more than half (55 percent) were male. Data included health records from 2010 to 2020 – stopping before the COVID-19…