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In the year following a Covid-19 infection, some 40% of adults in one study developed new onset type 2 diabetes. Rita Kalyani, a diabetes expert at Johns Hopkins, says certain populations were much more at risk for this outcome.

Kalyani: Older adults, over the age of 65, Black versus white, those with prediabetes, and those who were obese, were more likely to develop diabetes. These were all people who might have been on the edge. Had risk factors for developing diabetes but hadn’t developed it yet, and then with Covid-19 developed the full blown onset of the disease. Forty percent increased risk is a lot, what this study doesn’t yet answer is will these people have long lasting diabetes, or will it resolve over time.  :31

Kalyani says it may be possible to reverse the condition over time as inflammation decreases, as well as employing diet and exercise strategies to improve blood sugar levels. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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People who’ve had Covid-19 have a 40% higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes in the year after their infection, a new study finds. Johns Hopkins diabetes expert Rita Kalyani says there may be a couple of reasons for this.

Kalyani: This had been reported. There’s been different mechanisms suggested for how Covid-19 can increase the risk for diabetes. Not only by increasing inflammation in the body but perhaps some direct effects on the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, and impacting insulin production. But this study was particularly interesting because we have the extended follow up now almost a year after the Covid-19 infection and also they found that people used medications for diabetes more often as well if they had Covid-19 versus not.  :31

Kalyani says the medication use indicates that medication was needed to control the condition, rather than diet and exercise strategies alone. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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So-called long Covid may now include a new diagnosis of diabetes, a recent study shows. Diabetes expert Rita Kalyani at Johns Hopkins says this study follows participants over 12 months after their Covid infection.

Kalyani: It was really in a national database. Almost 200,000 participants who had a positive Covid-19 test between March 2020 when the pandemic started, and September 30, 2021. So now we have the benefit of extended follow up time that we didn’t have earlier in the pandemic. And what they found was that there was a 40% increased risk of developing new onset diabetes with Covid-19 infection in the year after someone had developed Covid-19.  :29

Kalyani notes that people who’ve had Covid-19 might want to be aware of symptoms of diabetes in the year after infection, including increased thirst and more frequent urination. If such symptoms develop a follow up with your primary care physician is a good idea. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Autoimmune diseases, where the body’s immune system attacks parts of the body, are common. Now the UK Biobank study finds that such conditions also increase someone’s risk to develop cancer. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, reviews the data.

Nelson: Overall, that is about a six to eight percent increased risk for cancer in the setting of these autoimmune diseases. They did look at things that we already knew a lot about. The risk for cancer in a particular organ that is affected by the autoimmune disease so things like ulcerative colitis has been known forever to have an association with colorectal cancer. If you look at people who had an immune related diseases in this cohort they were more likely to smoke, have a higher body mass index, have lower physical activity, eat processed meats and other foods, have a low education level, all of which are associated with an increased risk for cancer.  :32

Nelson says the exact mechanism whereby autoimmunity promotes cancer isn’t known, but says for now following screening recommendations is a good idea. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Two very common types of blood pressure medicines, so called ACE inhibitors and ARBs, may improve survival for people with cancer of the pancreas, a new study finds. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, notes that this is an idea that’s been around for a while.

Nelson: What they found was if you take an angiotensin receptor blocker you had about a 20% lower risk for pancreatic cancer mortality. If you took an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor you had about a 13% decreased risk. Most of that was concentrated within the first three years of a diagnosis and then went away. The idea that these drugs might influence pancreatic cancer is a fairly longstanding one. Pancreas cancers have very high pressure inside them and it’s because of the secretions pancreatic cells make. Does this mean that these could be an interesting adjunct to the treatment you’re getting?    :32

Nelson says studies are underway to examine the role of blood pressure lowering medicines in the management of pancreas cancer. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Screening mammography for breast cancer gets better all the time, finding very small cancers that may be most amenable to cure. Also detected more often are cancers that would never have caused a problem but are treated anyway, so-called overdiagnosis. Now a new study suggests that doesn’t happen as often as we feared. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, explains.

Nelson: In total, about 15.4% of screened breast cancers, one in seven, were likely to be these cancers that were nonprogressive, this is age fifty to seventy-four. You were more likely to be diagnosed with a cancer that might progress but not fast enough to threaten your life because you have other considerations. People have been very concerned about this overdiagnosis. Are we doing mastectomies and these kinds of things, more aggressively than we need to? And I think that this is a little bit of a relief, does suggest that it does occur, but it gives you a hint not as common as people thought.  :34

At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.

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Testing for Covid-19 has been a challenge throughout the pandemic, and unfortunately remains so for many. That’s according to infectious disease expert Lisa Maragakis at Johns Hopkins.

Maragakis: We still need testing. It wasn’t available at the beginning, we’ve struggled with it throughout the pandemic, and we still just don’t have widespread availability of rapid results tests that are good tests, and that’s one of the things that can empower individuals to make the right choices because we all have allergy symptoms or a little sore throat and you need to be able to test yourself frequently and say, is this Covid? And make choices about where you go, who you’re with, based on that information. And it’s just still too difficult to get a test.  :33

Maragakis encourages everyone with symptoms they suspect might be Covid to undergo whatever testing may be available to them and to choose actions that help protect others if they suspect they may have Covid. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.