Researchers find why some type 1 diabetics live free of health complications

While individuals who have suffered from type 1 diabetes for many years are significantly more likely to experience complications resulting from their condition, some with the metabolic disease remain free of these problems. A new study from the Joslin Diabetes Center may help explain why some people appear to be protected.

For the study, which was published in the journal Diabetes Care, researchers examined 351 individuals who had lived with type 1 diabetes for 50 years or longer. They found that many of these individuals were free of the eye, kidney, cardiovascular and nervous system complications that often set in after a person has lived with diabetes for a long time.

What's more, the study showed that an individual's control of their blood sugar levels was no predictor of whether or not they experienced complications. Poor blood sugar control is often thought of as one of the leading causes of other health problems among diabetics. However, the findings showed that many participants remained healthy in spite of poor blood sugar levels.

The researchers said that the explanation to the seemingly paradoxical situation may lie in individuals' genes. An examination of participants who were free of complications showed that the majority had higher levels of two specific proteins known as advanced glycation end products.

The researchers wrote in their report that the findings provide "strong evidence that protective molecular, physiologic or genetic mechanisms in these fortunate individuals fight against the toxic effects of high blood sugars over many decades."

Additionally, they said that the fact that some people can live with type 1 diabetes for decades without experiencing significant complications may serve as inspiration for those who were recently diagnosed with the disease.
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