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Diabetes Damage Similar to Lung Impairment Found in Smokers

Posted: Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lung impairment similar to that found in smokers has been found in a study that included 3,182 patients with diabetes and 27,080 control subjects. Researchers found that diabetes can damage the lungs in ways that are similar to smokers.

Scientists from the Netherlands found the connection between lung impairment and diabetes by looking at pulmonary function literature extracted from 40 studies of diabetic patients.

Compared to Type 1 diabetes, patients with Type 2 diabetes had the most significant restrictive lung impairment, also seen in smokers.

The researchers say the findings have implications for patients with known lung disease such as COPD that could worsen with diabetes. The authors concluded, "Since our results apply to the diabetic subpopulation free from overt pulmonary disease, it would next be interesting to investigate the potential clinical implications in those patients with diabetes who carry a pulmonary diagnosis, such as COPD or asthma."

Past studies have shown systemic inflammation present in patients with COPD as well as diabetes and other diseases. Researchers are not certain where systemic inflammation starts but it is linked to metabolic syndrome and inactivity.

According to the American Thoracic Society, "Patients with impaired glucose tolerance, diabetes, or impaired fasting glucose have higher levels of hs-CRP and interleukin-6 compared with subjects with normal glucose tolerance, even after adjusting for fat mass." CRP and interleukin-6 are markers of systemic inflammation in the body. The study exploring the role of inflammation and lung disease is titled "Systemic Inflammation in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Asthma: Relation with Comorbidities."

Researchers have been focusing on the role of inflammation in the body that is associated with COPD, diabetes, heart disease and a variety of other chronic diseases including obesity.

Decreased lung function found in the diabetic study was similar to that of smokers and included patients without overt lung disease. The study found an association between diabetes and lung damage, despite other factors that included smoking, diabetes duration and blood sugar control.

Source:, CHEST August 2010 vol. 138 no. 2 393-406

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