Type 2 diabetics with severe hypoglycemia, or very low blood sugar, are at an increased risk of death and of developing various cancers, a new study finds.
Hypoglycemia can happen suddenly and if left untreated can worsen and cause confusion, clumsiness, or fainting. Severe hypoglycemia can lead to seizures, coma, and even death. Many medications to treat type 2 diabetes can cause very low blood sugar levels.
For the study, researchers from Hong Kong studied 8,767 patients with a mean age of 57.4, and divided them into two groups – those with severe hypoglycemia and those without the condition. Both also had similar cancer rates. Risk factors for severely low blood sugar were noted based on demographics, lifestyle, and clinically relevant factors, as well as drug use at enrollment.
During follow-up, researchers noted that patients with severe hypoglycemia had a higher incidence of all-site cancer (13.4 percent compared to 6.4 percent) and death (32.8 percent compared to 11.2 percent).
Several risk factors contributed to severely low blood sugar levels including old age, low BMI, high HbA1c, low triglycerides, low LDL cholesterol, and chronic kidney disease. Many type 2 diabetes treatments also contributed to hypoglycemia.
Medications to treat type 2 diabetes have also been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Studies show that Actos increases the risk for bladder cancer, and Januvia and Byetta have been linked to acute pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
Source: Endocrinology Today