• Good news for diabetics: Fasting diet can reverse diabetes

Good news for diabetics: Fasting diet can reverse diabetes (Photo : Getty Images)

Middle-aged people who have diabetes take at least nine years off their life expectancy, a new study has found.

They are also at risk of dying from non-communicable diseases, which include cancers of the liver, pancreas, and breast; heart disease, stroke, liver and kidney diseases, and infection.

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The new study by the University of Oxford and Peking University, involved 500,000 adults from 10 areas throughout China, to include five from urban and five from rural areas.

They were recruited from 2004 to 2008 and were followed up for cause-specific mortality until 2014.

In the early part of the study, it revealed that six percent had diabetes, including eight percent from urban and four percent from rural areas.

Three percent of the patients were detected upon screening; while another three percent was previously diagnosed.

During the follow-up period, the researchers found that people with diabetes had twice the risk of dying compared with other study participants, and the risks were lower in urban areas.

"The first reliable evidence of the specific diseases and complications that account for mortality among Chinese individuals with diabetes," described Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, in an accompanying editorial in the study.

The WHO chief added that the pattern of excess mortality revealed in the study points to "significant weaknesses in the clinical management of diabetes, especially in rural areas, and in the effectiveness of population-wide interventions aimed at prevention."

In the past decades, the prevalence of diabetes in China has reached an estimate of 1 million adults, however, the full effect on mortality remains unknown.

China has undertaken major reforms in its health system in the last 10 years, to include training its family physicians and improving its primary health care.

Chan is confident that the results of this new study will push the Chinese government to continue its health reforms that will result in diabetes' control and prevention.

Inadequate treatment, particularly in the rural areas, was said to be culprit of the said loss, according to the study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

It was estimated that among those diagnosed with diabetes at 50 years old, the 25-year probability of death is 69 percent; while 38 percent among otherwise similar individuals without diabetes.

This translates to a loss of about nine years of life--eight years in urban areas and 10 years in rural areas.