Medical College of Georgia researchers have found a link between schizophrenia and type 2 diabetes.
In a study of 50 people newly-diagnosed with schizophrenia or a related psychotic disorder with no other known risk factors, Dr. Brian Kirkpatrick, vice chair of the MCG Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior, found that 16 percent had either diabetes or an abnormal rate of glucose metabolism.
In a similar size control group of people without schizophrenia, none had signs of or had developed the disease.
"These findings point toward there being some shared environmental factors or genetic factors between the development of schizophrenia and diabetes," he said.
To determine whether there was a link between schizophrenia and diabetes, Dr. Kirkpatrick and colleagues at the University of Barcelona in Spain and the University of Maryland administered a two-hour oral glucose test to patients who had not yet been placed on anti-psychotic medication.
Catching them before prescriptive treatment was important because researchers already knew that some of the most effective schizophrenia drugs also cause rapid weight gain - a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
"We know the medicine causes problems but we wanted to know whether the disease also causes them," he said.
Schizophrenia symptoms include memory and attention problems, hallucinations, disorganized thinking and behaviour and delusions. Psychotic symptoms typically start in late adolescence and early adulthood.
However, researchers believe that developmental abnormalities they don't yet know about also increase diabetes risk.
Dr. Kirkpatrick presented his findings at the International Congress on Schizophrenia Research in San Diego March 28-April 1.