It’s well-known that diabetes increases the risk of vision loss and kidney failure, but a new study has claimed that it could also lead to serious liver disease.

The research, published in Canadian Medical Association Journal, suggested that people newly diagnosed with diabetes have an elevated risk of developing serious liver disease, including cirrhosis or liver failure.

The study carried out by researchers from St Michael’s Hospital, University of Toronto and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto found that those with newly diagnosed diabetics appear to have a 77 per cent greater risk of developing a serious liver condition than non-diabetics.

For their 13-year-long study, the researchers looked at 4,38,069 adults aged 30 to 75 years with newly diagnosed diabetes.

They compared them with a group of 2,059,709 people without diabetes and found an incidence rate of 8 per 10,000 person-years for serious liver disease in people with newly diagnosed diabetes compared to a rate of 4 per 10 000 person years among non-diabetic controls.

They noted that persons with diabetes and concomitant obesity or hypertension had the highest risk of liver disease.

“We posit that the presence of overt diabetes reflects more severe insulin resistance, a greater fatty load in the liver and potentially worse hepatic inflammation and injury,” wrote study authors Joel Ray and Gillian Booth of St Michael’s Hospital.

“Those who have diabetes may not just have higher blood sugars, but greater long-term insulin resistance and fatty load to the liver, which ultimately impacts on the integrity of the liver’s cells.” the authors said.

A previous study by the US Department of Veterans Affairs found that the incidence of serious liver disease was two times higher in people with diabetes, although the study sample comprised older men in hospital.

The authors suggested that the effects of weight loss and glycemic and lipid control should be better understood before instituting annual screening for liver disease.