Failing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine may put patients at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.
Researchers at the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles found that coronavirus infection increases the risk of diabetes — but that the initial vaccination can reduce it.
Type 2 diabetes impairs the way the body regulates blood sugar levels and uses sugar, according to the Mayo Clinic. While there is currently no cure, the symptoms are usually treated with exercise, special diets, and weight loss.
The researchers concluded that the risk of type 2 diabetes after COVID-19 infection for unvaccinated patients was 2.7%, with 74% of cases developing after infection and 30% occurring before infection.
The risk for those who were vaccinated dropped to 1%, being only 51% post-infection and 49% before exposure.
The combined risk of type 2 diabetes for both groups, the researchers found, was 2.1% — 70% occurred after infection and 30% occurred before exposure.
Researchers estimate that type 2 diabetes affects 26 million Americans.
“As we learn to live with COVID-19, we must also be prepared to recognize and treat the various conditions related to its aftereffects,” said study author Dr. Alan Kwan, in a statement.
“Our ultimate goal – with every research study we conduct – is to find ways to keep people healthy and able to engage in their everyday activities and lives,” he added.
The study used medical records from more than 23,000 patients who documented at least one COVID-19 infection and were treated in the hospital between 2020 and 2022 to determine their risk of diabetes due to the infection.
According to the researchers, the average patient was 47 years old, with 54% women.
“These results suggest that COVID-19 vaccination prior to infection may provide a protective effect against diabetes risk,” said Dr. Kawn, who is also a cardiovascular physician at the Smidt Heart Institute.
The study, published Tuesday in the journal JAMA Network Open, is the latest in a series of published reports that indicate that COVID-19 infection can have more adverse health effects than just two weeks in duration.
A study at the University of Washington School of Medicine concluded last year that people infected multiple times with the virus are twice as likely to die and three times as likely to be hospitalized as patients who were infected only once.
The researchers also found that those with repeated infections were at greater risk for lung, heart and brain problems.
Cedars-Sinai experts said their efforts confirm that vaccination can alleviate some of the risks and adverse health consequences associated with COVID-19 infection.
“While we’re still not sure, the trends and patterns we see in the data suggest that COVID-19 infection may be acting in certain settings as a disease accelerator, amplifying the risk of a diagnosis that individuals could have later received. in life,” said study author Dr. Susan Cheng, in a statement.
“So it may be that, rather than being diagnosed with diabetes at age 65, a person with a pre-existing risk of diabetes may – following a COVID-19 infection – be more likely to develop diabetes at age 45 or 55,” added the Dr. Cheng, who also serves in the Erika J. Glazer Chair in Women’s Cardiovascular Health and Population Science.
While Kawn noted that more research is needed to confirm his team’s findings, they “remain steadfast in our belief that COVID-19 vaccination remains an important tool in protecting against COVID-19 and the as yet unclear risks.” that people may experience during the post-infection period”.
The study comes as the Food and Drug Administration proposed an annual COVID-19 shot in January, mimicking the flu regimen already in place. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report this year revealing that the updated coronavirus booster did not provide ample protection against emerging variants.