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Schizophrenia linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes

A new study has found that people with early schizophrenia are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

By Amy Wallace
Schizophrenia linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Researchers have found an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in patients with early schizophrenia. Photo by TesaPhotography/PixaBay

LONDON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Scientists at King's College London have found a link between early schizophrenia and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

People with schizophrenia are three times more likely to get type 2 diabetes than those without the mental disorder, and this increase had long been associated with lifestyle choices.

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However, the recent study found that the risk of diabetes was present regardless of factors such as the use of antipsychotic drugs, diet and exercise.

People with schizophrenia often have other health issues such as heart attack, stroke, and a potential 30-year reduction in life expectancy due to lifestyle.

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The study looked at whether people with early schizophrenia were at the same increased risk of developing diabetes prior to being prescribed anti-psychotic medication.

For their study, researchers examined data from 16 studies of 731 patients with a first episode of schizophrenia and a control group of 614 people.

An analysis from blood tests from the participants and found that those with schizophrenia had a higher levels of fasting blood glucose pointing to an increased risk of developing diabetes. Participants having had a first episode of schizophrenia had higher levels of insulin and increased levels of insulin resistance.

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Results showed that regardless of lifestyle factors and ethnicity, the common denominator for developing an increased risk of type 2 diabetes was early schizophrenia.

"Our findings tell us that people with early schizophrenia have already started down the road to developing diabetes, even if they haven't been diagnosed with diabetes yet," Dr. Toby Pillinger, first author of the study from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London, said in a press release.

"The mortality gap between people with schizophrenia and the general population is growing, and there is a need for novel approaches to halt this trend. Our study highlights the importance of considering physical health at the onset of schizophrenia, and calls for a more holistic approach to its management, combining physical and mental healthcare."

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The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

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