A new study has found that people with first-episode schizophrenia are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
In addition, the researchers at King’s College London said those who experience long-term schizophrenia are up to three times more likely to develop the disease.
They looked at data from 16 studies involving 614 healthy patients and 731 first-episode schizophrenia patients.
An in-depth analysis of blood samples exposed a pattern linking schizophrenia with “impaired glucose homeostasis” – a factor which significantly increased the risk of diabetes.
First-episode patients were also found to have higher levels of insulin and insulin resistance.
“Our main findings are that patients with schizophrenia show raised fasting plasma glucose levels, reduced glucose tolerance, raised fasting plasma insulin levels, and increased insulin resistance at illness onset,” said the study’s lead author.
They added: “The association between schizophrenia and glucose dysregulation suggests that patients should be educated regarding diet and physical exercise, as well as diabetic screening, and offered early lifestyle and pharmacologic interventions to combat the risk of progression to type 2 diabetes.”
The research adds an important step to increasing the effectiveness of prevention for patients with schizophrenia. Previous studies have linked both conditions to maternal malnutrition and low birth weight.