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Asthma May Raise Risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease

Study Shows Link Between People With Asthma and Diabetes, Heart Risk

The Role of Inflammation continued...

“There is a link between obesity and asthma and certainly a link between obesity and type 2 diabetes,” he says.

“More epidemiologic data is necessary before considering this a strong association,” Schachter says.

Jerome V. Tolbert, MD, PhD, director of outreach program at Friedman Diabetes Institute of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, says the new link makes sense.

While Tolbert says he would like to see the findings reproduced in larger studies of more diverse populations, he says that “we know that diseases like diabetes are pro-inflammatory disease and we do see these links between autoimmune diseases and diabetes.”

Heart disease and diabetes can go hand in hand, and most [people with diabetes] die of heart disease,” he says. “There may be something here.”

Ninety-eight percent of the new study participants were white, but asthma rates are higher among African-Americans, he says.

Asthma is an inflammatory condition as well. “We treat asthma with steroids because of inflammation and people get better,” he says.

Steroids used to treat asthma may also increase diabetes risk, he says, “Sometimes steroids throw people into diabetic state.”

Given the high rates of prediabetes and undiagnosed diabetes, Tolbert urges all people with asthma to get screened to see if they are at risk for diabetes.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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