Issue 22, August 2010
3. People who have arthritis are at increased risk of diabetes.

     Risk for diabetes was increased by approximately 50 percent in patients with rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis compared to people who don't have these conditions, a new study reveals. Researchers collected the data from the medical records between 1996 and 2006 of British Columbia, Canada. Patients were classified as diabetic if they had been prescribed at least one diabetic medication or received a diagnosis of diabetes.

     The lead researcher Daniel Solomon, MD, from the Division of Rheumatology at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston says the risk of getting diabetes increases with age and body mass index. In addition, along with heart disease, lung disease, etc. RA is another condition which elevates the risk factor for diabetes. But he says this study isn't saying RA patients should worry that they will definitely get it, but they are at an increased risk. Dr.Solomon rules out the increased risk to be due to steroid use in arthritis treatment even though the exact reason is not known.

     "One hypothesis is that the inflammation of RA is associated with insulin resistance -- the body doesn't process insulin correctly," Dr. Solomon says. When patients have rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system finds itself in a state of chaos, and attacks the joints and other organs, instead of protecting them. If the organ that's attacked is the pancreas, it can lead to diabetes.

     "It's important for doctors to screen for diabetes in patients with RA", advises Dr.Solomon specifically to physicians taking care of RA patients.

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