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Study links wealth to diabetes death risk

Having diabetes has the same effect on someone's risk of death as living in a very deprived community, research shows.

University researchers have found that people with Type 2 diabetes from an affluent background had the same risk of dying as someone without the condition from a deprived area.

But the highest risks of suffering an early death remained in patients from the worst off backgrounds who had diabetes.

Patients from these areas had almost twice the risk of those from more affluent areas.

Poor health

Previous research has shown that Scotland’s most deprived communities have among the worst health records in the UK.

Scottish regions account for eight of the bottom ten areas with the lowest life expectancy for British men.

But the latest work, published in the journal Diabetes Care, also shows that living in a more affluent area cannot protect you from the worst effects of Type 2 diabetes.

This form of diabetes develops during adulthood and is linked to being overweight.

Gender divide

Researchers analysed the health records of 200,000 people in Scotland and found that among the most affluent women with diabetes, the mortality rate was about 12 deaths per 1,000 of the population.

For women from the most deprived areas without diabetes, the mortality rate was almost the same at 12.6 per 1,000.

Affluent women without diabetes had a low death rate of six per 1,000.

A similar pattern was seen in men, though not quite as pronounced.

Affluent men with diabetes had a mortality rate of 16.3 per 1,000, while deprived men without the condition had a rate of 21.6.

But by far the highest mortality rates were seen in men and women from deprived areas who did have diabetes - at 20.8 per 1,000 for women and 26.2 for men.

There is declining heart disease around the world, partly because of better treatments, and we hoped that would have diminished the effect of diabetes, but it does not seem to have done. The effect, unfortunately, is still as bad as it ever was.

Dr Sarah WildReader at the University's Centre for Population Health Sciences

The team says that affluent diabetes patients could see their risk of death increase to that of someone without the disease but who is living in the most deprived of circumstances.

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