WHO study shows link between TB, diabetes

A recently released World Health Organization study shows a clearer link between diabetes and tuberculosis.

The study found evidence that more than half of those with TB who were involved in the study also suffered from diabetes, most likely due to weakened immune systems. The WHO said that, as a result, it necessary to increase TB surveillance of diabetics living in TB-endemic regions, according to

The study was conducted in the Indian state Kerala among more than 550 TB infected patients.

"India should routinely start screening diabetics for TB and TB patients for high blood sugar," Dr. Anoop Misra, the chairman of the Fortis Center for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases and Endocrinology, said, reports. "It is important for countries like India where numbers of both the diseases are enormous, with TB and diabetes fueling each other. It is important to look for both these diseases and aggressively treat them."

The WHO Global TB Report 2012 recently acknowledged that those with a weakened immune system as a result of diseases like diabetes are more likely to have the latent form of TB progress into active TB. It is believed that latent TB potentially affects up to one in three people around the world. Those with latent TB have a lifelong risk of developing active TB.

The WHO has asked countries in medium and high TB-prevalent environments to screen TB patients for diabetes. The Kerala study says that the overall prevalence of diabetes in Indian TB patients remains unknown.