Chronic Hepatitis C and diabetes can affect one another. While Hepatitis C, caused by Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a risk factor for developing diabetes, having diabetes increases risk of complications related to chronic HCV infection.
What Is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis is a condition that causes liver inflammation, which can further lead to a range of health problems, including liver cancer. Most often it is caused by a virus and the most common hepatitis viruses are: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
Among these, hepatitis C is of concern because most people infected with the virus develop the chronic form of the disease. However, on this day (July 28), World Hepatitis Day is commemorated each year to enhance awareness of viral hepatitis – which include hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E.
The WHO is calling on all countries to work together to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030. This year, the organization has decided to observe World Hepatitis Day under the theme “Hepatitis-free future,” with a strong focus on preventing hepatitis B among mothers and newborns.
According to WHO, hepatitis B and C together is responsible for 1.3 million deaths each year. Hepatitis B is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) that is transmitted through blood and infected bodily fluids.
The infection can be passed to others through direct contact with blood, unprotected sex, use of illegal drugs, unsterilized or contaminated needles, and from an infected woman to her newborn during pregnancy or childbirth.
Hepatitis C, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), is a major cause of liver cancer. The virus is spread only through exposure to an infected person’s blood. In most cases, people become infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment to inject drugs.
Unlike hepatitis A and B, there’s no vaccine for hepatitis C. There is a high prevalence of diabetes among HCV-infected patients. Keep reading to know the connection between the two conditions.
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What’s The Link Between Hepatitis C And Diabetes?
As chronic HCV can impact the many functions of the liver, it can also increase the risk of developing other problems such as immune system disorders, heart disease, and diabetes. There is a two-way association between diabetes and hepatitis C infection.
Many studies have shown that patients with chronic hepatitis C are more prone to developing both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, patients with diabetes are at higher risk of developing more complicated chronic HCV, with more severe outcomes including progression to fibrosis and cirrhosis, and higher risk for development of hepatocellular carcinoma.
As per estimates, up to one-third of people with chronic HCV have type 2 diabetes. This is because HCV appears to increase the body’s insulin resistance, which is a primary risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone that helps your body to use sugar (glucose) for energy or to store it for future use. In addition, the therapy used to treat HCV may increase the risk of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Autoimmune problems associated with HCV are also linked to a higher risk for developing type 1 diabetes.
People with preexisting diabetes may also have a more aggressive course of HCV. Since diabetes affects the function of your immune system, it decreases your body’s ability to fight off infections, including HCV.