No Association Between Hepatitis C And Diabetes

A new study has found no association between hepatitis C and diabetes in the United States, despite previous research that suggested a clear link.

Maryland-based researchers looked at 15,128 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2000. They found that among participants, 1.8 percent had the hepatitis C virus (HCV), 7.3 percent had diagnosed diabetes, 3.2 percent had undiagnosed diabetes and 42.8 percent had prediabetes.

Researchers found that those with HCV antibodies were no more likely to have diabetes or prediabetes than those without HCV.

According to the Hepatitis C Trust website, those with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The educational foundation attributed the link to increased accumulation of fat in the liver caused by HCV. That excess fat, the group says, may prevent the absorption of excess glucose, so it remains in the blood.

This new study, however, debunks that opinion.

Researchers found that those with HCV markers did have elevated liver enzyme levels, but those levels also occurred in those with diabetes, even if they did not have HCV.

“In the US population, we were unable to demonstrate an association of HCV infection with diabetes,” researchers wrote. “Elevated liver enzyme activities were associated with both diabetes and insulin resistance. We suggest that previous reports of relationships of HCV with diabetes may, in large measure, have been the result of this effect of elevated liver enzymes.”

The study appeared in the journal Hepatology.

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