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The Association between Infection with Hepatitis C Virus and Diabetes FREE

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Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 2000;133(8):I-40. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-133-8-200010170-00004
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What is the problem and what is known about it so far?

Infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) can lead to liver problems. Chronic HCV infection has also been associated with illnesses not related to the liver. For example, some small studies suggest that diabetes is more common in people with HCV infection than in persons without it. Diabetes affects the body's ability to produce or respond to insulin, a hormone that regulates how the body uses carbohydrate, protein, and fat. There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes begins during childhood or young adulthood. People with type 1 diabetes do not make enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes, also known as adult-onset diabetes, interferes with the body's ability to respond to insulin. Over time, high blood sugar levels in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can lead to such complications as blindness, kidney failure, and heart disease.

Why did the researchers do this particular study?

To see whether the likelihood of developing diabetes is increased among persons with HCV infection in the general adult population in the United States.

Who was studied?

Nearly 10,000 persons older than 20 years of age who participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) during 1988 to 1994 and had complete evaluation for HCV infection and for diabetes.

How was the study done?

NHANES III was conducted by interviewing a sample of the U.S. civilian population in their own homes. The survey asked about personal characteristics, medical history, current and past medicine use, and health behaviors. Ninety-one percent of participants also had a physical examination and blood tests. The blood tests included measurement of the blood sugar level (to detect diabetes) and a test for HCV infection, which was done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The researchers compared the frequency of diabetes (type 1 and type 2) in persons with and those without HCV infection.

What did the researchers find?

Of the 9841 persons studied, 1242 had type 2 diabetes and 230 had HCV infection. People with HCV infection were more than three times more likely than people without HCV infection to have type 2 diabetes. None of the 19 persons with type 1 diabetes had HCV infection.

What were the limitations of the study?

This study suggests an association between type 2 diabetes and HCV infection, but it does not prove that the infection causes diabetes.

What are the implications of the study?

In the United States, type 2 diabetes occurs more often in people with HCV infection than it does in people without this infection.

Summaries for Patients are a service provided by Annals to help patients better understand the complicated and often mystifying language of modern medicine.

Summaries for Patients are presented for informational purposes only. These summaries are not a substitute for advice from your own medical provider. If you have questions about this material, or need medical advice about your own health or situation, please contact your physician.

The summary below is from the full report titled “Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus among Persons with Hepatitis C Virus Infection in the United States.” It is in the 17 October 2000 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 133, pages 592-599). The authors are SH Mehta, FL Brancati, MS Sulkowski, SA Strathdee, M Szklo, and DL Thomas.

Summaries for Patients are a service provided by Annals to help patients better understand the complicated and often mystifying language of modern medicine.

Summaries for Patients are presented for informational purposes only. These summaries are not a substitute for advice from your own medical provider. If you have questions about this material, or need medical advice about your own health or situation, please contact your physician.

The summary below is from the full report titled “Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus among Persons with Hepatitis C Virus Infection in the United States.” It is in the 17 October 2000 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine (volume 133, pages 592-599). The authors are SH Mehta, FL Brancati, MS Sulkowski, SA Strathdee, M Szklo, and DL Thomas.

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