It’s nearly impossible not to know what diabetes is. Everyone has at least one person in their life diagnosed with this disease. In 2013 it was estimated, that over 382 million people throughout the world suffer from diabetes. Diabetes type 2 is considered to be the pandemic of 21. century. One of the hottest questions in current diabetes research, is the level of diabetes’ co-occurrence with other diseases and syndromes. Exploring the nature of their mutual relation, could bring us the key to more efficient therapies in near future.
Diabetes and cancer are two heterogeneous, severe, and chronic diseases. Because of their frequency, even minor reciprocal influences may have a great impact on patient’s therapy. Studies suggest that the risk of several types of cancer (including pancreas, liver, breast, colorectal, urinary tract, and female reproductive organs) is increased in diabetic patients. When we look at the figure above, we can see that the incidence of cancer in diabetes patients is the most researched field with nearly 15 000 publications. If you would like to read more into diabetes-cancer rearch, the scientist with the biggest contributions in this field of research is Heiner Boeing (95 research papers). It is not surprising that the country with the broadest research is USA (5470), but other countries have great body of research also: UK (903), Japan (878), Italy (690) and China (680). The most cited research paper is “Diabetes and cancer. with 79 citations.
While scientists are still trying to target the links between cancer and diabetes, in the research on nephropathy and diabetes the links are already found. Researchers can currently focus on effective treatment development. In diabetic nephropathy (i.e. kidney disease), the kidneys slowly thicken and the tissue becomes scarred over time. In later stages kidneys begin to leak and albumin (i.e. the main protein of human blood plasma) passes into patient’s urine. Interestingly, a group of studies suggests, that vitamin D can have renoprotective effect on development of this syndrome. In the figure below, we can observe that the journal with the highest number of publications on connection between nephropathy and diabetes is Kidney international (396). The scientific super-hero, with the biggest contribution to the research, is Hans-Henrik Parving.
Another co-occurring syndrome, Diabetic retinopathy (persistent damage to retina of the eye), is a common microvascular complication of diabetes, costing patients great suffering. Research on retinopathy linked to diabetes is on the third place in the number of published research papers with 11 902 publications. Diabetic retinopathy remains the leading cause of preventable blindness in working-aged people. One third of people with diabetes suffer from the retinopathy. Strangely, this condition is also associated with increased risk of life-threatening systemic vascular complications, including stroke, coronary heart disease, and heart failure. The scientist with the biggest contribution to the research of links between diabetes and retinopathy is Ronald Klein. The most cited research paper is “Diabetic retinopathy.” with 82 citations. The recent study mr. Klein reports, that the intensive glycemic control can reduce the long-term risk of ocular surgery.
Central neural system can be also affected by developing diabetes. Diabetes can cause neuropathy – degeneration of peripheral and also autonomic nerves. The neuropathy of peripheral nerves causes numbness or pain in limbs. Diabetic autonomic neuropathy can affect gastrointestinal, genitourinary, and cardiovascular organs in the body. When we look at the numbers, there are 3029 publications about diabetic neuropathy containing the keyword “autonomic” and 5007 containing the keyword “peripheral”. Most of the publications come from USA (3066), UK (1026) and Japan (742). The publication with highest impact is called “Diabetic autonomic neuropathy.”
Recently, research started to focus on the effects developing diabetes has on patient’s mental health and vice versa. Studies suggest, that depression is associated with hyperglycemia and an increased risk for diabetic complications. Relief of depression is associated with improved glycemic control. As we can see on the figure above, nearly one third of publication activity on this topic comes from USA (2974), followed by the UK and Canada. The most cited publication for depression and diabetes relationship is very elaborate meta-analysis: “The prevalence of comorbid depression in adults with diabetes: a meta-analysis.” (No. of citations: 306)
As we can see, diabetes is associated with numerous diseases and syndromes. In the majority of studies researchers suggest, that the incidence of these diseases can be lowered by better glucose management. This is sometimes not easy to achieve, but we believe that it’s just a matter of time, when devices such as mobile intelligent diagnostic sensors and artificial pancreas will ease patient’s condition. Development of such devices will decreace the incidency of syndromes like retinopathy, neuropathy and nephropathy.
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