Women with Type 1 diabetes face ‘higher risk’ of dying compared with men

By Editor
9th February 2015
Latest news, Research

Women with Type 1 diabetes face a greater risk of dying from a range of diseases compared with men with the same condition, a study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology has found.

Scientists from the University of Queensland analysed data from more than 26 studies covering more than 200,000 people with the condition.

Rachel Huxley, lead author and Professor in the School of Public Health at The University of Queensland, in Australia, which carried out the research, said: “We know that people with Type 1 diabetes have shorter life expectancies than the general population, from both acute and long-term diabetic complications. But, until now, it was not clear whether this excess risk of mortality is the same in women and men with the disease.

On average, women live longer than men, but our findings show that in women with Type 1 diabetes this ‘female protection’ seems to be lost

“On average, women live longer than men. But, our findings show that in women with Type 1 diabetes this ‘female protection’ seems to be lost and excess deaths in women with Type 1 diabetes are higher than in men with the disease.”

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of all studies examining sex-specific estimates of mortality for men and women associated with Type 1 diabetes spanning the last five decades (January 1966 to November 2014).

Analysis of data from 26 studies involving 214 114 individuals with the disease found a 37 per cent higher excess risk of dying from any cause in women with Type 1 diabetes compared with men who have the disorder. In particular, women have nearly double the excess risk of developing or dying from cardiovascular disease than men.

Women with Type 1 diabetes also face a greater excess risk of strokes (37 per cent) and are 44 per cent more likely to die from kidney disease than men with the disorder. Interestingly, Type 1 diabetes is not linked with an increased risk of death from cancers in either sex.

The authors speculate that poorer glycaemic control and difficulties in insulin management, which are more common among women, could be contributing factors to the increased risk of vascular-related death in women with Type 1 diabetes compared with men with the condition.

Simon O’Neill, Diabetes UK’s Director of Health Intelligence, said: “This study highlights that women with Type 1 diabetes have a significantly higher risk of dying compared to their peers. The study also shows that women with Type 1 have a greater increased risk of death than men with Type 1 diabetes.

“The exact reasons behind this are not clear but there has been some evidence to suggest that changes to girls’ bodies during puberty can make it more difficult for them to get their diabetes under control.

“We also know that people with Type 1 diabetes, particularly younger people with the condition, are less likely to get their annual checks and have their condition under control than other people with diabetes and this puts them at increased risk of life threatening complications, such as amputation, kidney failure and heart disease later in life, which are not only personally devastating but are also extremely costly to the NHS.

“This is why we need the NHS to urgently improve diabetes care so that all people are offered care that is tailored to their individual needs and so are able to manage their condition effectively and reduce their risk of devastating complications and early death. With the right care and support in place there is no reason why people with Type 1 diabetes – both men and women – can’t live long, healthy lives.”

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