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Diabetes in Middle-Age Can Increase Ailment Risk

A middle-aged adult with diabetes has a far greater risk of developing age-related ailments than those who do not have diabetes. This is the finding of a study by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System and the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System.

The study was published in the March, 2011 issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The researchers analyzed the data of participants in the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study. All the participants were 51 years of age or older.

They compared the incidences of eight geriatric conditions in adults with diabetes and adults without diabetes. The eight geriatric conditions they looked at were cognitive impairment, falls, incontinence, low body mass index, dizziness, vision impairment, hearing impairment and pain.

They found that adults with diabetes are at increased risk for the development of these conditions, which in turn result in higher incidences of disease and functional impairment. Specifically, adults with diabetes aged 51-60 were nearly twice as likely to develop new geriatric conditions as those without diabetes.

The researchers believe this increase is linked to the fact that diabetes affects and weakens multiple organ systems. As a result, a person with diabetes is more susceptible to these conditions at a younger age than a person without diabetes.

Studies have shown that the most effective ways to prevent the development of diabetes are regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking.

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