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Fat-Cell Protein May Reduce Diabetes Risk
Date:7/7/2009

Higher levels of adiponectin linked in studies to lower incidence of type 2 diabetes ,,,,

TUESDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- Higher levels of a protein created by fat cells are associated with a lessened risk of type 2 diabetes.

The protein, adiponectin, appears to have anti-inflammatory and insulin-sensitizing capabilities, according to a study published in the July 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Our finding was that adiponectin is associated with a low risk of type 2 diabetes, and the effect is quite pronounced," said the study's senior author, Rob M. van Dam, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

Van Dam said that he and his colleagues believe that adiponectin isn't just a marker for a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, but that the protein actually exerts a causal effect on the development of the disease. He said that in animal studies, when adiponectin is injected, metabolic differences occur. And, according to the study, adiponectin acts as a hormone with both anti-inflammatory and insulin-sensitizing properties.

That's important because in type 2 diabetes, the body often becomes resistant to insulin and doesn't use it effectively. Almost 24 million Americans have diabetes, and about 6 million of them don't yet know it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Untreated, the disease can lead to serious complications, including kidney failure, amputations and blindness.

What this study doesn't mean, however, is that you should add fat to increase your adiponectin levels. Fat tissue also produces other signaling molecules, according to van Dam, and most of these are destructive, not helpful. Additionally, although adiponectin is produced by fat tissue, the heavier you get, the less adiponectin you're likely to produce.

For the current study, he and his colleagues reviewed 13 stu
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