Younger people with Type 2 diabetes are three times more likely to die early than those of the same age without the disease, a study suggests.
Type 2 diabetes tends to be diagnosed later in life
A study of 264,000 patients in the journal of Diabetic Medicine found those with the disease were twice as likely to die early than those without.
Patients with Type 2 diabetes aged 35 to 54 were three times as likely to die early as non-sufferers of the same age.
Type 2 Diabetes tends develop in later life and is linked to obesity and diet.
Charity Diabetes UK said the results of the study published in the journal Diabetic Medicine were "shocking".
It develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).
Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed at a much earlier age and occurs when the body cannot make any insulin at all.
Type 2 diabetes is treated with lifestyle changes such as a healthier diet, weight loss and increased physical activity.
But the condition is progressive and tablets and/or insulin may also be required to achieve normal blood glucose levels.
Both types lead to associated conditions such as heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, nerve damage leading to amputations and blindness.
Some view Type 2 diabetes as a milder form of the disease because patients do not necessarily have to have insulin injections.
'Younger and younger'
But research author Henrietta Mulnier of Surrey University said data like this showed it was just as dangerous.
Her team compared information from GPs' records in the UK on deaths from all causes between January 1992 and October 1999.
"We did expect that people with Type 2 diabetes would have a higher risk of dying earlier rather than later," she said.
She added that the findings would have an impact on how decisions on how to deal with the disease and provide health care are made.
"With people being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes younger and younger, the figures are going to get worse.
"We really do need to focus on early detection and treatment."
Douglas Smallwood, chief executive at Diabetes UK, said the results were shocking but people with diabetes had to be made aware of the seriousness of the condition.
"Diabetes deaths are predicted to rise by 25% over the next decade."
But he said that many of the deaths would have been needless.
"However, the risk of complications leading to death can be reduced if people with diabetes get the care they need to manage their condition.
"There is no reason why people with diabetes cannot live long and healthy lives," he added.
It is thought that there up to three quarters of a million people with Type 2 diabetes in the UK who have not been diagnosed.
The longer patients have the condition, the more likely they are to develop complications which can be deadly.