TORONTO -- A new study suggests that low-income Ontarians with diabetes have a 51 per cent higher risk of dying than their wealthier counterparts.

Research from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto found that for people in Ontario with diabetes under the age of 65, being in a lower socioeconomic bracket increases their risk of death.

The study examined health claims from more than 600,000 Ontarians with diabetes over a six-year period.

It found that socioeconomic status was a strong predictor of death and non-fatal heart attacks or strokes among people under 65, but not for seniors.

While drug treatments are available, the study says the cost has risen considerably over the last 10 years, making it difficult for low-income earners to have access to the medication they need.

There are 350 million people worldwide suffering from diabetes and the number is expected to rise in the coming years.