Failing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine could put patients at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.
Researchers from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles discovered that the coronavirus infection increases the risk of diabetes — but that up-front vaccination could curb it.
Type 2 diabetes impairs how the body regulates blood sugar levels and uses sugar, per the Mayo Clinic. While there is no cure currently, symptoms are often treated with exercise, special diets and weight loss.
Researchers concluded that the risk of Type 2 diabetes after COVID-19 infection for unvaccinated patients was 2.7%, with 74% of cases developing post-infection and 30% occurring pre-infection.
The risk for those who were vaccinated dropped to 1%, with only 51% occurring post-infection and 49% prior to exposure.
The combined risk of Type 2 diabetes for both groups, researchers found, was 2.1% – 70% occurred post-infection and 30% occurring prior to exposure.
Researchers estimate that Type 2 diabetes affects 26 million Americans.
“As we learn how to live with COVID-19, we also have to be prepared to recognize and treat the various conditions linked to its aftereffects,” study author Dr. Alan Kwan said 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 of over 23,000 patients who documented at least one COVID-19 infection and were treated at the hospital between 2020 and 2022 to determine the risk of diabetes due to infection.
According to researchers, the average patient was 47, with 54% of subjects being 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 on Tuesday in the journal JAMA Network Open, is the latest in a slew of published reports that indicate COVID-19 infection could have more adverse health effects than just its two-week duration.
A study from the Washington University School of Medicine last year concluded that people infected multiple times with the virus are twice as likely to die and three times more likely to be hospitalized than patients who were only infected once.
The researchers also discovered that those with repeat infections were more at risk for lung problems, heart issues and brain conditions.
The Cedars-Sinai experts said their efforts confirm that vaccination could relieve some of the risks and adverse health consequences associated with COVID-19 infection.
“Although we don’t yet know for certain, the trends and patterns that we see in the data suggest that COVID-19 infection could be acting in certain settings like a disease accelerator, amplifying risk for a diagnosis that individuals might have otherwise received later in life,” study author Dr. Susan Cheng said in a statement.
“So, it could be that instead of being diagnosed with diabetes by age 65, a person with preexisting risk for diabetes might — after a COVID-19 infection — be more likely to develop diabetes by age 45 or 55,” added Dr. Cheng, who also serves the Erika J. Glazer chair in Women’s Cardiovascular Health and Population Science.
While Kawn noted that further research is necessary to confirm their team’s findings, they “remain steadfast in our belief that COVID-19 vaccination remains an important tool in protecting against COVID-19 and the still-uncertain risks that people may experience during the post-infection period.”
The study comes as the Food and Drug Administration proposed a yearly COVID-19 jab 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.
This article was originally posted by The New York Post.