People with type 2 diabetes have an almost three-fold higher risk of acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and two-fold greater risk of biliary disease (disease of the gallbladder and bile ducts), compared with people without diabetes, a study shows.

"The increased risk of pancreatitis for patients with type 2 diabetes...combined with the increasing prevalence of diabetes and the associated risk factors, may be contributing to a meaningful increase in the incidence of acute pancreatitis in the US," Dr. Gary L. Bloomgren, at Amylin Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, California, and colleagues suggest in the journal Diabetes Care.

Their study was supported by Amylin Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly, producers of the diabetes drug exenatide (Byetta), which has been associated with spontaneous reports of acute pancreatitis, which the investigators say "prompted this investigation."

Bloomgren and colleagues used a nationwide managed care claims database that included nearly one million adults enrolled for at least 12 continuous months between 1999 and 2005.

There were 337,067 patients with type 2 diabetes and a similar number of people without diabetes.

According to the investigators, the incidence of pancreatitis was 2.8-fold higher, and the incidence of biliary disease 1.9-fold higher, in diabetics relative to nondiabetics.

For both conditions, younger diabetics (aged 18 to 30 years old) had the highest risk relative of developing pancreatitis or biliary disease.