All of the studies found a reduced relative risk of type 2 diabetes with higher levels of adiponectin. The average risk reduction was 28 percent for each incremental increase in adiponectin.
The researchers adjusted the data for body mass index and for lifestyle factors and found that the results were consistent across different ethnic groups, according to van Dam.
He said that adiponectin levels might eventually be used to predict who could develop type 2 diabetes, although much more research would be needed to ensure that this added new and accurate information to the risk assessment process.
Another practical implication that might eventually develop from these findings is a different type of medical intervention that would increase levels of adiponectin pharmacologically, van Dam noted.
For the moment, he said, "this study reinforces how important body fatness and adipose tissue is in the development of type 2 diabetes. Fat tissue is not just a storage organ that's just sitting there," he stated.
If you're concerned about preventing type 2 diabetes, van Dam said that losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight and maintaining that weight loss can have a big impact on your diabetes risk.
"This study is a really interesting observation, but everything that adiponectin is suggested to be doing could be attributed to less obesity," said Dr. R. Paul Robertson, president of medicine and science for the American Diabetes Association. "So, we don't know if there's a cause and effect relationship."
Robertson echoed van Dam's advice for preventing diabetes: "Avoid obesity." And if you're already overweight, try to lose weight. "So many things get better as you lose weight," he said.
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