In a new study, researchers found that rheumatoid arthritis is linked to a 23% increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and the finding may show that both diseases are linked to the body’s inflammatory response.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Manchester, UK.
Inflammation has emerged as a key factor in the onset and progression of type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease.
The team suggests that the systemic inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis might therefore contribute to the risk of individuals developing diabetes in the future.
The team conducted a comprehensive search of a range of medical and scientific databases up to 10 March 2020, for cohort studies comparing the incidence of type 2 diabetes among people with rheumatoid arthritis to the diabetes risk within the general population.
The eligible studies identified comprised a total of 1,629,854 participants. Most of the studies were population-based and one was hospital-based, while no evidence was found for publication bias in any of them.
The authors found that having rheumatoid arthritis was linked to a 23% higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes, compared to the diabetes risk within the general population.
This finding supports the notion that inflammatory pathways are involved in the pathogenesis of diabetes.
The researchers also suggest that more intensive screening and management of diabetes risk factors should be considered in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Drugs that reduce systemic inflammatory marker levels may have a role in preventing type 2 diabetes. This may involve focussing on more than one pathway at a time.
One author of the study is Dr. Adrian Heald.
The study was presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
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