In addition, diabetics were 64 percent more likely to die from mental disorders and 58 percent more likely to die from suicide, mostly because they were more likely to be depressed. They were also 70 percent more likely to die from falls than people without diabetes, the researchers found.
The risk of premature death was closely associated with blood sugar levels, with an excess risk of death at blood glucose fasting levels exceeding 100 milligrams per deciliter. There was no excess risk of death at fasting levels of 70 to 100 mg per dL, the researchers found.
"In addition to vascular disease, diabetes is associated with substantial premature death from several cancers, infectious diseases, external causes, intentional self-harm and degenerative disorders, independent of major risk factors," the study authors wrote. "These findings highlight the need to better understand and prevent the multi-system consequences of diabetes."
Ricordi said that although all the reasons that result in the greater risk of death among diabetics aren't known, high blood sugar and inflammation are key players. These can decrease the body's ability to fight off infections and even cancer, he said.
"We have to continue to find a cure and to prevent diabetes," he said. "We cannot think it can just be managed with drugs."
For more on diabetes, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Camillo Ricordi, M.D., distinguished professor and director, Cell Transplant Center and Diabetes Research Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; March 3, 2011, New England Journal of Medicine
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