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Hepatitis Awareness Month 2022: What Is The Link Between Diabetes And Hepatitis?

May is designated as Hepatitis Awareness Month in the US, and May 19th is Hepatitis Testing Day. During the month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its public health partners work towards raising awareness of viral hepatitis and encourage its testing and vaccination to lower the risk of epidemics related to the condition.

Diabetes and hepatitis C infection are both common disorders that are linked to higher morbidity and mortality rates. A study says that people with chronic hepatitis (C or B) are more likely to acquire type 2 diabetes (T2D) compared to healthy individuals. [1]

Here we will discuss the association between hepatitis and diabetes. Take a look.

Diabetes And Hepatitis C

Diabetes and hepatitis C are both common disorders around the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 170 million people worldwide are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), and 347 million have diabetes mellitus (DM).

Though the infection rates of HCV are declining, complications due to the condition continue to rise. According to the study, more than a third of patients with chronic HCV infection are likely to experience at least one extrahepatic (occurring outside the liver) symptom. [2]

Many studies also talk about diabetes as a predisposing factor for the development of hepatitis C infection.

Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are some of the common complications of hepatitis C. The infection may lead to several autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, including an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, mainly because of treatment methods like interferon-alpha (IFN alpha) that tend to affect the immunity of the patients. [3]

Some of the risk factors for the development of diabetes in HCV patients are:

  • Age over 40 years [4]
  • Longer duration of hepatitis C.
  • Male gender [5]
  • High body weight
  • Family history of diabetes
  • Chronic liver diseases like cirrhosis. [6]

Diabetes And Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a life-threatening infection that increases the risk of mortality, mainly due to cirrhosis and liver cancer death. Many studies have established a link between HBV infection and the prevalence of diabetes, but these findings are controversial. [7]

A study has shown that though patients with hepatitis B virus are at an increased risk of developing diabetes compared to those without the infection, HBV alone cannot be a potential risk factor for diabetes. Other factors like liver damage, higher inflammation, pancreatic damage and insulin resistance can be associated with the development of hepatitis B and diabetes.

Another study links diabetes with an increased risk of hepatitis B infection. It says that diabetics have a higher prevalence of hepatitis B infection and, thus, screening, treatment and management of diabetes is essential as it may lead to conditions like liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), also known as liver cancer. [8]

To Conclude

Screening for hepatitis virus in high-risk individuals like diabetics is important to reduce complications linked to hepatitis. Also, if you are a diabetic, make ways to effectively manage your condition and look out for any signs such as stomach pain and weight loss that may indicate liver damage and consult a medical expert.

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