Diabetes progress hindered by rising alcohol deaths

Improvements in the care of type-1 diabetes are being overshadowed by a population-wide rise in lifestyle diseases such as alcohol misuse, a Finnish study suggests.

Professor Per-Henrik Groop and his team said the findings highlighted the importance of healthcare professionals developing long-term relationships with patients and advising on the effect of alcohol.

The researchers looked at mortality data for 17,306 Finnish people diagnosed with type-1 diabetes from 1970 to 1999.

They found survival rates among those who developed type-1 diabetes before the age of 15 have risen over the past 30 years. But survival rates have fallen for those who developed the disease between the age of 15 and 29.

Alcohol- and drug-related deaths increased in the late-onset group and accounted for 39% of all deaths in these patients during their first 20 years of diabetes.

‘The high proportion of, and increase in, alcohol-related deaths among patients with type-1 diabetes reflects that of the background population,’ the researchers said.

‘Since 2005, alcohol-induced diseases have been the most common cause of death in men and women of working age in Finland, exceeding the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease.’

Professor Groop and his team said the rise in alcohol- and drug-related deaths among those with late-onset type-1 diabetes was ‘alarming’.

‘This highlights the importance of permanent and long lasting patient-doctor-nurse relationships, close supervision, and guidance on the short term and long term effects of alcohol in young people with type-1 diabetes, especially in our alcohol permissive cultures,’ they said.

Professor Groop and his team said the routine use of post-mortem toxicology may mean alcohol and drugs are likely to be recorded as causes of death in Finland.

However, UK and Swedish research has previously shown a link between diabetes and suicides and deaths from drug misuse, they said.

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