Type 1 diabetes is much more deadly for women than men, a study of more than 200,000 people with the condition has found.
The University of Queensland’s School of Public Health research has shown that women with type 1 diabetes have a 40% increased risk of death from any cause and that they have more than twice the risk of dying from heart disease compared with men with this type of diabetes.
Study leader Professor Rachel Huxley said the marked difference between the genders could change how women with type 1 diabetes were treated and managed.
“It is speculated that women with type 1 diabetes tend to have greater difficulties with insulin management and glycaemic control than men – factors that could contribute to their increased risk of heart disease,” Professor Huxley said.
“However, more research is needed to determine why the disease poses a greater risk to women than men.”
Professor Huxley said the study findings were based on an analysis of data from 26 studies involving more than 200,000 men and women with type 1 diabetes.
“We already knew that people with type 1 diabetes have shorter life expectancies than the general population, but this study was able to determine for the first time that the risk of mortality is greater in women than men with the disease,” she said.
Professor Huxley said the study also found that women with type 1 diabetes were at greater risk of strokes and were 44% more likely to die from kidney disease than men.
“Interestingly, however, type 1 diabetes was not linked to an increased risk of death from cancers in either gender,” she said.
Type 1 diabetes is on the rise. Worldwide, the incidence of type 1 diabetes in children aged 14 years and younger has increased by three per cent every year since 1989.
Australia has one of the highest rates of type 1 diabetes in the world and its incidence is increasing.
There are more than 120,000 Australians living with type 1 diabetes, and about 1825 Australians are diagnosed with the disease every year.
The study is published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
(Source: The University of Queensland, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology)