Man with pancreatitis using blood sugar measurement device to monitor type 2 diabetes
Credit: Elva Etienne/Getty Images

Research carried out by the Consortium for the Study of Chronic Pancreatitis, Diabetes, and Pancreatic Cancer shows specific risk factors can increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes in patients with chronic pancreatitis.

The factors include those normally associated with type 2 diabetes such as being overweight or obese, male, of non-White ethnicity and older age and also pancreatic disease related factors.

“What we’re hoping to do with this information is to build prediction models that clinicians can use to manage patients with chronic pancreatitis who don’t yet have diabetes,” said Mark Goodarzi, the Eris M. Field Chair in Diabetes Research at Cedars-Sinai and senior author of the Diabetes Care study.

“We can look at these factors and say, ‘This patient is at high risk of developing diabetes within X number of years,’ allowing us to identify patients we need to follow closely to help prevent diabetes.”

Every year about 220,000 people are diagnosed with acute pancreatitis, where the pancreas becomes inflamed due to various causes, in the U.S. and around 80,000 are diagnosed with longer-term chronic pancreatitis where persistent inflammation can lead to organ damage over time.

Chronic pancreatitis is a known risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, but not everyone with this condition will go on to develop it. More accurate risk prediction models taking into account multiple risk factors could help clinicians predict which patients are most at risk and need preventive treatment or lifestyle change to help slow or stop type 2 diabetes developing.

The study included 645 people with chronic pancreatitis aged 18-75 years, 276 of whom also had diabetes.  Goodarzi and colleagues found that men with chronic pancreatitis were 2.4 times more likely than women to develop type 2 diabetes. Similarly, overweight/obesity increased the risk 2.8-fold over being normal weight. Non-White people with pancreatitis were more than twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes than White people and smokers also had double the risk of non-smokers. Age also increased the risk of pancreatitis patients developing diabetes by around three percent per extra year of life.

The pancreatic disease history of the patient also contributed to diabetes risk. History of acute pancreatitis complications, nonalcoholic etiology of chronic pancreatitis, exocrine pancreatic dysfunction, and pancreatic calcification and atrophy all contributed to a person’s risk of going on to develop type 2 diabetes.

The investigators now want to expand the study population and validate their findings. They also want to assess risks contributed by additional factors such as genetics and hormone levels.

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