Hepatitis B vaccine could reduce diabetes risk by 33 percent, study finds

November 16, 2015 | by Veronique de Turenne

In a City of Hope study recently published in the journal PLOS One, researchers found that people successfully vaccinated against hepatitis B had a 33 percent drop in diabetes risk when compared to people who had not received the vaccine.  “Successful” vaccination means people have antibodies against hepatitis B in the bloodstream – a sign that they’re protected against the disease.

One of the authors of the study, Ken C. Chiu, M.D., a professor in the Department of Clinical Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism, is now at work on a new study to further investigate the potential link between the vaccine and diabetes resistance.

Doctors already knew of the association between diabetes and hepatitis B, a virus that infects the liver, and researchers have been exploring the possibility that diabetes might be triggered by bacteria, viruses or other disease-causing organisms.  What’s important about this new study is that it shows just how vital this line of research may prove to be.

The study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which is conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That study is used to evaluate health and nutrition in adults and children living in the U.S.

In their analysis, researchers at City of Hope used data from 15,316 participants with no prior history of diabetes; 2,320 of whom had been successfully immunized against hepatitis B.

When the data were adjusted to account for variables such as age, gender, race, body mass and physical activity, and risks such as alcohol intake, smoking behavior, the resulting drop in diabetes risk among vaccinated subjects measured 33 percent.

Early results from the study drew great interest when presented last year at the American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions in San Francisco. Those preliminary findings had suggested a 50 percent decrease in diabetes among subjects with a successful hepatitis B vaccine, but further analysis provided more specifics.

“As it was our initial analysis, along with the restriction of abstracts, we personated the available data at the time,” said Chiu, site director of the Endocrinology Fellowship Training Program at City of Hope. “After multiple discussions with the additional work, we put together the paper several months later.”

"The conclusions in the published results reflect changes in strategy in assessing the data, which allows a more thorough analysis", Chui said. "Although the mechanism of how the vaccine might reduce the risk of diabetes is still unclear, the initial results show that additional research is needed."

“The study showed people vaccinated with hepatitis B have a much lower risk for diabetes,” Chiu said. “If we can vaccinate patients effectively, there’s a good chance for us to reduce the risk of diabetes.”

Learn more about our diabetes research. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or are looking for a second opinion consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-HOPE. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.


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