Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is associated with a 23% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes. 

Systemic inflammation associated with RA may contribute to the risk of a patient developing T2D, according to investigators. Inflammation has been identified as a key factor in the onset and progression of T2D. Because RA is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease, the inflammation associated with RA may contribute to an increased risk of T2D, according to the study. 

Investigators examined a cohort of studies comparing the incidence of T2D among people with RA to diabetes risk within the general population up to March 10, 2020. Approximately 1.6 million participants were included and the majority of studies were population-based, whereas 1 was hospital based. No evidence of publication bias was identified for any of them.

Investigators found that compared with the general population, individuals living with RA were 23% more likely to develop T2D. The findings support the hypothesis that inflammatory pathways are involved in the pathogenesis of diabetes, according to the study.

"We suggest that more intensive screening and management of diabetes risk factors should be considered in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Agents that reduce systemic inflammatory marker levels may have a role in preventing type 2 diabetes. This may involve focusing on more than one pathway at a time," the study authors said in a press release. 

Reference:
Study shows that rheumatoid arthritis is associated with a 23% increased risk of developing diabetes [News release] September 20, 2020. Manchester, UK. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-09/d-sst_1091720.php. Accessed September 21, 2020.