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Higher Rates Of Suicide, Alcohol And Accidental Deaths In Those With Diabetes

Adults who are newly diagnosed with diabetes are more likely to die of suicide, alcohol-related causes or accidents compared to those without diabetes, according to findings from a registry-based study in Finland.

The study was a nationwide effort, where alcohol-related deaths, suicides or accidental causes of death in over 400,000 people with or without diabetes were assessed by researchers from Helsinki University Hospital in Helsinki, Finland.

How Was The Study Conducted?

Data from 434,629 adults (208,257 women), including 208,148 adults with diabetes who had purchased at least one insulin prescription and/or oral antidiabetes drug between 1997 and 2010 were analyzed. A reference group of adults without diabetes was matched by age, sex, and region.

Within the reference group, 13,199 adults developed diabetes during follow-up; researchers treated these individuals as new cases and a new matched control was assigned to each.

Researchers then analyzed data on mortality from Statistics Finland. Endpoints included death with an underlying cause of suicide, intentional self-harm, accident, and alcohol-related death.

The Results

During a follow-up of about 7 years, researchers observed 2,832 deaths related to alcohol-related causes (1,981 in adults with diabetes), 3,187 attributable to accidents (1,707 in adults with diabetes) and 853 attributable to suicide (499 in adults with diabetes). The most frequent alcohol-related cause of death was cirrhosis of the liver (45% of all deaths).

Researchers also observed more accidental deaths among adults prescribed insulin therapy for men and women when compared with those without diabetes.

Additionally, researchers observed more suicides among men prescribed insulin and women prescribed oral antidiabetes drugs compared to those without diabetes.“There is a need for more effective psychological and social support for people with diabetes,” Dr. Leo Niskanen told Healio. “Those patients with heavy mental burden or with excessive use of alcohol should discuss these issues with their physician or nurse. There are many ways that these problems can be managed.”

In addition, Niskanen says root causes of excess mortality due to unnatural causes of death should be explored in-depth. The researchers note the influence of drugs, such as antidepressants, the occurrence of diabetic complications, such as low blood glucose, or the socioeconomic status of patients should be considered.

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