for Veterans and the Public
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: If I have hepatitis C infection, does this mean I am going to get diabetes?
People with hepatitis C may be at risk of developing a type of diabetes called diabetes mellitus type II (also known as Type 2 diabetes or "sugar diabetes"). We don't know exactly how many patients with hepatitis C will develop diabetes, but it may be as many as 20 percent, or 1 in 5. Here are some reasons for their higher risk:
- Hepatitis C can prevent liver cells from functioning normally. The liver helps to control blood sugar levels, and when it can't perform its job properly, diabetes can develop. Diabetes occurs more frequently in persons with advanced liver disease.
- Some patients experience high blood sugar when they take interferon (standard interferon or pegylated interferon) for hepatitis C treatment, which can lead to diabetes that usually resolves once treatment is completed.
- Many patients with hepatitis C also have weight problems, and being overweight or obese can lead to diabetes.
There is still much to be learned about why people with hepatitis C are at higher risk of developing diabetes. But we do know that the best way to prevent diabetes, whether or not you have hepatitis C, is to maintain a normal body weight by eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.