Diabetes and Schizophrenia: A Possible Connection
Many patients with type 2 diabetes benefit from anti-inflammatory medications, as well as food that have anti-inflammatory effects. This is because the disease is associated not only with the body's insulin resistance and blood glucose levels, but with the inflammatory molecules in the body.
However, type 2 diabetes is not the only disease to trigger the body's inflammatory response; those molecules have also been connected to mental conditions like schizophrenia.
Studying Glucose and Psychosis
A new study published in Lancet Psychiatry sought to examine the link between schizophrenia and type 2 diabetes. To do so, researchers gathered data from 12 other studies, including data from 1,137 participants, and analyzed the findings for connections between the two conditions. Ultimately, scientists discovered that study participants who had a schizophrenic episode had higher levels of glucose intolerance than study participants who did not.
These findings indicate a probable link between the two disorders - a link that researchers believe lies in the patients' inflammatory responses. In fact, other studies have pointed out that people with schizophrenia have higher numbers of inflammatory molecules, just like type 2 diabetics. Also, most anti-psychotic medication has anti-inflammatory effects.
Changing How We Treat Patients
For Dr. Benjamin Perry, lead author of the study, these findings could be vital to the treatment of schizophrenic patients around the world.
"Our results suggest that there might be an intrinsic link between abnormal glycemic control and psychosis,” he told Medscape Medical News , “[B]eneath the effects of diet, medication, and reduced access to healthcare that are all known causes for those with schizophrenia to suffer from diabetes.”
Patients with schizophrenia are about 30 percent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than the general population, and researchers are optimistic that this study will shed some critical insight – and possibly prevent diabetic onset for schizophrenics in the future.
As Dr. Mehrul Hasnain said in a recent commentary on Dr. Perry's work: "We need to start entertaining the idea that there is more to the metabolic vulnerability of patients with schizophrenia (and possibly bipolar disorder) than can be attributed to unhealthy lifestyle and drug adverse effects."