Chronic infections could be contributing to the socioeconomic gradient in chronic diseases. Although chronic infections have been associated with increased levels of inflammatory cytokines and cardiovascular disease, there is limited evidence on how infections affect risk of diabetes.RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We examined the association between serological evidence of chronic viral and bacterial infections and incident diabetes in a prospective cohort of Latino elderly. We analyzed data on 782 individuals aged >60 years and diabetes-free in 1998–1999, whose blood was tested for antibodies to herpes simplex virus 1, varicella virus, cytomegalovirus, Helicobacter pylori, and Toxoplasma gondii and who were followed until June 2008. We used Cox proportional hazards regression to estimate the relative incidence rate of diabetes by serostatus, with adjustment for age, sex, education, cardiovascular disease, smoking, and cholesterol levels.RESULTS
Individuals seropositive for herpes simplex virus 1, varicella virus, cytomegalovirus, and T. gondii did not show an increased rate of diabetes, whereas those who were seropositive for H. pylori at enrollment were 2.7 times more likely at any given time to develop diabetes than seronegative individuals (hazard ratio 2.69 [95% CI 1.10–6.60]). Controlling for insulin resistance, C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 did not attenuate the effect of H. pylori infection.CONCLUSIONS
We demonstrated for the first time that H. pylori infection leads to an increased rate of incident diabetes in a prospective cohort study. Our findings implicate a potential role for antibiotic and gastrointestinal treatment in preventing diabetes.