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Type 3 diabetes more common than Type 1 and often misdiagnosed

Published on 25/10/17 at 08:48am

In the first ever study of its kind, researchers from the University of Surrey examined the records of more than 2 million individuals to assess the frequency of different forms of diabetes. The study found that Type 3c diabetes was actually more prevalent in the cross-section of the population than the much more commonly known Type 1.

Type 1 diabetes often begins in childhood or early adulthood, and is as a result of an autoimmune disease whereby insulin producing beta cells are destroyed by the immune system. Type 2 diabetes is a condition wherein the body is unable to produce enough insulin or the body’s cells don’t react to the insulin produced, it makes up 90% of all cases of diabetes.

Type 3c diabetes is linked to damage to the pancreas, which can be as a result from inflammation, tumours or surgery. In many cases, it is years, even a decade, later that the onset of this type of diabetes occurs.

This explains why researchers behind the study found that 97.3% of people with this type of diabetes are misdiagnosed as having Type 2 diabetes. Type 3c diabetes has significantly different medical needs when compared with Type 2, which has led to researchers to call for better diagnosis and awareness of the condition.

Senior author of the report, Professor Simon de Lusignan from the University of Surrey, said: “Greater awareness of Type 3c diabetes within the medical profession is required immediately to improve management of this disease, which now has a higher incidence than Type 1 diabetes in adults. Our research shows that the majority of people with Type 3c diabetes are being misdiagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, putting both their short and long term health at risk. Diabetes and its complications place a tremendous burden on the NHS and it is important that patients are diagnosed quickly and correctly, helping them get the specific care they need.”

Type 3c diabetes requires insulin therapy straight away, which is not always the case with individuals Type 2, and are more likely to need more insulin. In addition, therapy for the third type also an include taking digestive enzymes with food.

To highlight how common this type of diabetes is, the researchers pointed to figures showing that, of their sample, 1.6% of new cases of diabetes were Type 3c compared with 1% for Type 1.

Ben Hargreaves

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