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Diabetes May Cut 6 Years off of Life Expectancy

A large study published in the March 2011 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine found that people over 50 years of age with diabetes on average die 6 years earlier than someone without the disease.

The study was conducted by researchers at Cambridge University in Britain. Their findings highlight the urgency of finding new ways to stem the growing diabetes epidemic.

Estimates show that nearly 25 million Americans are currently affected by diabetes, which equates to 8% of the American population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict that by the year 2050, one in three U.S. adults could have diabetes.

The researchers analyzed data from nearly 1,000,000 participants who participated in over 100 studies. Participants were followed on average for 13 ½ years. Even after taking into account such factors as age, gender, smoking, and weight, they still found a large increase in mortality risk due to diabetes.

Diabetics had a 25% higher risk of dying from cancer and were more likely to die from a variety of illnesses including infections, lung and kidney disease and falls. Diabetes is also linked to heart disease and the researchers found that diabetics had double the risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke.

These findings show once again that more preventative measures need to be taken to lower diabetes rates and help those with diabetes normalize blood glucose through exercise, diet and medication.

Diet is one of the most important aspects of both preventing and managing diabetes and eating more foods high in fiber, omega-3s, calcium, and vitamin D can be helpful.

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