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A Blood Marker Could Spot Diabetes Risk
Date:7/8/2008

Higher levels of fetuin-A were linked to later disease development, study found,,,,

TUESDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- Rising levels of a blood protein called fetuin-A may indicate an elevated risk of developing type 2 diabetes, new research suggests.

Reporting in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, found that older people with the highest levels of fetuin-A were more likely to develop diabetes than those with lower levels.

"If fetuin-A can really differentiate diabetes risk, it gives us an opportunity for public health interventions," said the study's lead author, Dr. Joachim Ix, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and the San Diego Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.

Ix said that interventions to fight diabetes, such as healthy diet and exercise, can be difficult to accomplish on a wide scale. However, efforts could be made easier "if we could use something like fetuin to identify people with the highest risk," he said.

According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), almost 21 million Americans now have diabetes. Most of them have the type 2 form of the disease, which is often linked to obesity. People with type 2 diabetes either don't produce enough insulin, or their bodies become desensitized to insulin and can't effectively use it. Untreated, diabetes can lead to a number of complications, including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and more, according to the ADA.

The exact cause of type 2 diabetes still remains elusive. For example, being overweight is a significant risk factor for developing the disease, but not everyone who's overweight or obese will become diabetic. Fetuin-A is a protein secreted by liver cells that may play a role in insulin resistance -- the precursor to type 2 diabetes.

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