Diabetes triples the risk that a person will develop tuberculosis, claims a new report by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) and the World Diabetes Foundation. The report that screened TB patients in India for diabetes mellitus (DM) shows significantly higher rates of diabetes among TB patients than the general population and cautions against a co-epidemic of TB and diabetes.

The report ‘The Looming Co-epidemic of TB-Diabetes: A Call to Action’ cautions that if the trend of TB patients with diabetes going unnoticed continues, the consequence will be an increasing number of people who develop tuberculosis as a result of diabetes; potentially reversing the progress made against TB over the last few decades.

A growing link has been observed between diabetes and TB, a respiratory disease spread by bacteria, the report has stated.

The physiological mechanisms are not fully understood, though.

“Diabetes is fuelling the spread of TB,” said the report released for the 45th World Conference on Lung Health in Barcelona.

“This is largely because diabetes rates are skyrocketing around the world, and having diabetes increases the risk that a person will become sick with TB.”

According to the report, it was estimated that there were more people in the world living with a combination of TB and diabetes than there were people living with TB and HIV — a well-known duo that has claimed millions of lives.

Twelve percent of nearly 9,000 TB patients screened in China had diabetes, as did nearly 30 percent of 1,200 TB patients screened in southern Mexico, it said.

By 2030, India, China, Indonesia, Pakistan and Brazil together are projected to have half of the world’s people living with diabetes, and are also high-TB burden countries.