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World Hepatitis Day 2023: Is hepatitis B related to diabetes?

Going by multiple studies, diabetes and hepatitis B are often linked. On World Hepatitis Day 2023, let's find out if hepatitis B can cause diabetes.

People with type 2 diabetes can’t take diabetes management lightly as there are risks of developing heart disease, foot problems, eye and kidney diseases. You can add hepatitis B to the list too as there are several studies that show a strong link between hepatitis B and type 2 diabetes. For instance, according to a 2015 research published by the National Library of Medicine, people with Hepatitis B virus infection are at higher risk of developing diabetes compared to uninfected ones. It also showed that hepatitis B might be a potential risk factor for development of diabetes. So, on World Hepatitis Day 2023, which falls on July 28 every year, let’s find out whether hepatitis B can cause diabetes.

Health Shots connected with Dr Akash Shukla, Director and Consultant-Hepatology, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre, Mumbai to explore the possible connection between hepatitis and diabetes.

What is hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B is a virus which infects children at a very young age and then remains in the liver for a long period of time. The virus mostly gets transmitted from mother to baby during birth. It can also be transmitted through unsafe injections and contact with blood or other body fluids while having sex with an infected partner. According to World Health Organization, in 2019, nearly 300 million people were living with chronic hepatitis B infection.

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Types of hepatitis

Hepatitis is of several types, the most common being waterborne ones like Hepatitis A and hepatitis E, and blood-borne hepatitis like hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Hepatitis D is a virus which is seen more in the Middle-east and the Europe and has not been reported from India, says the expert.

Is Hepatitis B related to diabetes?

Hepatitis B by itself cannot cause cannot cause diabetes. In fact, with diabetes, hepatitis B is not the most common type that is reported, says Dr Shukla. Backing his opinion is a 2019 research that was published by National Library of Medicine. It showed that in a meta analysis of several studies, the prevalence of diabetes was higher in people with hepatitis B. It was found that a major contribution of this was because people who participated in the studies had cirrhosis. Those with higher viral load were those who have other diseases than cirrhosis and fibrosis, and so, people who have cirrhosis are already at risk of developing insulin resistance and diabetes. Even though in the study it was found that the prevalence of diabetes was higher in people with hepatitis B, no direct mechanism by which Hepatitis B can cause diabetes was seen.

Dr Shukla says that hepatitis C, on the other hand, predisposes a person to diabetes. With hepatitis C, especially the genotype three, it causes deposition of fat in the liver, which is basically fatty liver. It also causes development of insulin resistance directly and so, it might increase chances of having diabetes.

Tips for people living with diabetes and hepatitis

To manage diabetes, there is a need to create a healthy eating plan. If you have both hepatitis and diabetes, you need to be more careful. Here’s what you should do:

• Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
• Control sugar intake.
• Control your cholesterol.
• Control blood pressure.
• Manage your weight.
• Be under constant surveillance for hepatitis and take appropriate therapies.

With these tips, hepatitis and diabetes management can be easier for you.

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