This common health issue linked to lower diabetes risk, Harvard scientists find

In a recent study at Harvard Medical School, researchers found that people with rheumatoid arthritis had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes than other people, including those with other types of arthritis.

The study is published in Arthritis Care & Research. One author is Seoyoung C. Kim, MD, ScD, MSCE.

In the study, the team did an analysis of a US commercial insurance database.

The analysis compared adults with rheumatoid arthritis with four other groups: people from the general population without rheumatoid arthritis, people with high blood pressure, people with osteoarthritis, and people with psoriatic arthritis.

A total of 449,327 people were included.

During the median of 1.6 years of follow-up, the team found the rate of type 2 diabetes development was lowest in the rheumatoid arthritis group and highest in the high blood pressure group.

After adjustments, rheumatoid arthritis was linked to a 24% to 35% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with the four other groups.

The team says while systemic inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis increases the risk of heart disease, the findings unexpectedly show that having rheumatoid arthritis itself does not confer an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Since all rheumatoid arthritis patients included in this study were treated with at least one disease-modifying antirheumatic drug, the study is unable to test the association between no treatment or undertreatment for rheumatoid arthritis and risk of type 2 diabetes.

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