COVID-19 survivors may have higher risk of developing diabetes

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In a study from Penn State College of Medicine, scientists found COVID-19 survivors have a 66% higher risk of developing type 1 or type 2 diabetes following their diagnosis compared to those not diagnosed with COVID-19.

Their findings are among the latest evidence suggesting that people diagnosed with COVID-19 may experience a range of health issues in the time period following their illness.

While prior research has indicated that COVID-19 can lead to increased incidence of diabetes in survivors, compared to the general population, the causes are not well understood.

According to the researchers, SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19—binds to an enzyme receptor found on the surface of many organs and tissues—including cells found in the pancreas, small intestine and kidneys.

Other research teams have found that the virus affects insulin levels and induces the death of pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin.

In the study, the team completed one of the largest meta-analyses, or comprehensive reviews of existing studies, of the association between COVID-19 and diabetes.

Their final analysis included data from more than 4 million COVID-19 patients and 43 million control patients who were not diagnosed with the illness.

The team found a risk ratio of 1.66—implying that COVID-19 survivors have a 66% higher risk of developing new-onset diabetes. The risk did not vary by age, sex or the quality of the study used.

The findings are similar to previous studies examining the relationship between COVID-19 and diabetes, but that their analysis is one of the largest to date.

The research team said future studies should examine the social determinants of health associated with new-onset diabetes so effective public health prevention and management strategies can be developed.

They also said more research is needed on whether there are biological causes to explain this increased risk of diabetes, and that genomics data could be used to identify COVID-19 survivors at most risk for developing the disease.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about Vitamin D deficiency linked to severe COVID-19, and scientists find new drug to treat both COVID-19 and cancer.

For more information about diabetes, please see recent studies about the key cause of type 2 diabetes, and results showing scientists warn about widely used diabetes drug metformin.

The study was conducted by Paddy Ssentongo et al and published in Scientific Reports.

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