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Diabetes is hitting Americans at epidemic proportions.
In fact, one in 10 of us is already living with blood sugar problems. And rates are continuing to climb dramatically, despite well-known prevention options.
Sadly, while diabetes used to be considered a disease of middle age, multiple factors including obesity, poor diet and sedentary behavior are increasing the rate at which younger adults are diagnosed with the condition.
It’s a problem that researchers say could steal years from the lives of millions of Americans since a diabetes diagnosis by 30 can mean dying 14 years before your time.
The dangers of diabetes
But before we jump into the research that proved just how risky blood sugar problems in young adulthood really are, let’s look at just how many ways diabetes negatively affects your health.
Diabetes can even lead to sexual dysfunction in both men and women.
And while previous research had estimated that the disease can decrease life expectancy by six years, a study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology has shown the danger to be much greater the younger diabetes hits.
3 ways diabetes decreases life expectancy
The research included a deep dive into data from two major international studies, including the Emerging Risk Factors Collaboration and the U.K. Biobank. Together, these allowed the scientists to analyze the effects of diabetes on 1.5 million individuals.
And the results clearly showed that the earlier a patient is diagnosed with blood sugar problems, the more their life expectancy decreases.
Using data from people diagnosed with diabetes in the United States, the researchers were able to estimate that those diagnosed at age 30, 40, and 50 died on average 14, 10, and 6 years earlier, respectively.
And the U.K. Biobank data resulted in similar findings, which showed that at the same ages, 30, 40, and 50, patients died an average of 13, 9, and 5 years earlier.
According to the researchers, the majority of the reduction in life expectancy was due to these three adverse events:
- heart attacks;
- strokes ;
- and aneurysms.
Cancer factored into those early deaths as well, since diabetes has been found to drive cancer spread.
“Type 2 diabetes used to be seen as a disease that affected older adults, but we’re increasingly seeing people diagnosed earlier in life. As we’ve shown, this means they are at risk of a much shorter life expectancy than they would otherwise have,” said researcher, Emanuele Di Angelantonio, MD.
Dialing back diabetes dangers
The good news is that according to study author, Stephen Kaptoge, MD, “Type 2 diabetes can be prevented if those at greatest risk can be identified and offered support — whether that’s to make changes to their behavior or to provide medication to lower their risk.”
So what steps can you take?
First, consider switching to a low-calorie diet to ditch your diabetes, since just eight weeks of eating low-cal can help you shed weight off your pancreas and get things in working order again.
Next, take up walking, especially after meals. This is vital since research has shown that getting in enough steps each day can slash your diabetes risk by 44 percent.
Finally, make sure you’re getting enough manganese in your diet. It’s a trace mineral that is heavily concentrated in the pancreas and is involved in the production of insulin.
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Type 2 diabetes — CDC
Type 2 Diabetes Diagnosis by Age 30 Can Reduce Life Expectancy by 14 Years, Study Finds — Integrative Practitioner