TUESDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- While complications from type 1 diabetes are common, they aren't inevitable. New research suggests that some people with the disease apparently have an inherent protection against serious complications, such as eye, kidney and heart disease.
In a group of people who'd had type 1 diabetes for more than 50 years, nearly 43 percent remained free of serious eye disease, while about 87 percent never developed kidney disease, nearly 40 percent were free of nerve damage and more than 50 percent were free of cardiovascular disease, according to the study.
"We have identified a group of people who can clearly live well with diabetes for a long time," said the study's senior author, Dr. George King, chief scientific officer at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. "Now, we're in the process of finding out why. In the meantime, if you have type 1 diabetes, try to control your disease. The reason that most of them eluded the problem of complications is that they manage their disease pretty well," said King.
But, this study found that even in this group of people who -- on average -- maintained good blood sugar control, some developed complications, while others appeared to have some sort of protection against them.
Results of the study are published in the April issue of Diabetes Care.
Almost 26 million Americans have diabetes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). About 5 percent of those have type 1 diabetes, the CDC estimates. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that's necessary for the body and brain to be able to use the sugars found in carbohydrates as fuel. People with type 1 diabetes must take replacement insulin, through injections or an insulin pump, all of their
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