According to a new study, women with diabetes are almost twice as likely to die prematurely.
The metabolic disease shortens their lives by an average of five years – six months longer than for their male peers. That triples at 15 if she also smokes.
A 10-year study found a dramatic gender gap in death rates – 96 and 74%. Type 2 diabetes was thought to have a greater effect on men’s health.
Lead author Dr Adrian Heald, from Salford Royal Hospital in the UK, said the discovery came as a shock.
“A woman with type 2 diabetes, for example, could live five years less than the average woman in the general population, while someone diagnosed at a younger age could lose eight years of life expectancy. “
Type 2 diabetes, the form linked to unhealthy lifestyles, is more common in men. This can lead to serious complications, such as amputations, heart disease, and kidney failure.
Heald and his associates calculated the life expectancy of nearly 12,000 local patients over a decade, comparing them to the general population matched for age and sex.
The analysis showed that a woman with type 2 diabetes had a 60% increased risk of premature death and would live five years less than a peer in the general population.
“Our modeling suggests that type 2 diabetes has a greater effect on life expectancy in women, smokers, and those diagnosed at younger ages,” Heald said.
The condition usually occurs in older people. But onset at a younger age is becoming more common around the world, with a rise in obesity a major driver.
The study found that smoking shortens the life expectancy of people with type 2 diabetes by 10 years – and diagnosis before age 65 by more than eight years.
Heald added: “It is essential that the groups most at risk are informed not only of the increased risk they face, but also of the magnitude of the risk. This can make the health advice given to them more relevant and thus help 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%. But little is known about how demographic and lifestyle factors might further impact.
The average age of participants was 66 and more than half (55%) were men. The data included health records from 2010 to 2020 – stopping before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Office for National Statistics figures on general population life expectancy and information from the Multiple Deprivation Index were also used.
During the study period, 3,921 people died, including 2,080 men, compared to the expected 2,135.
This is based on a standardized mortality ratio (SMR) of 1.84 – meaning the risk of early death was 84% higher overall, with women bearing the heaviest burden.
Results held after deprivation levels were taken into account; Salford is one of the most deprived areas in England.
People diagnosed under the age of 65 had a 93% higher risk of early death and lived more than eight years less than people of the same age in the general population. Those diagnosed at age 65 and older lost less than two years.
Smoking has had the greatest effect on mortality and life expectancy for people with diabetes. The modeling revealed that patients who smoked were two and a half times more likely to die prematurely.
They lived 10 years less than those in the general population. Non-smokers and ex-smokers with diabetes lost three years of life expectancy.
Modeling revealed that a female smoker diagnosed before the age of 65 was almost four times more likely to die prematurely. She lived 15 years less than a woman of the general population of the same age.
Most diabetes symptoms are the same in men and women. They include constant thirst and urination, fatigue, dizziness, and weight loss.
The findings in the journal Diabetologia were presented at a meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Stockholm.
Produced in collaboration with SWNS Talker.
This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.