By: Ben Eastman
There is now one more good reason to have your urine checked regularly. A new study shows that elevated protein (microalbumin) levels in the urine of people with type 2 diabetes are associated with a greater risk of developing kidney disease, heart disease, and neuropathy.
The report, published in the November 1996 issue of Diabetes Care, suggests that elevated microalbumin levels are more than just indicators of potential kidney disease, as was previously thought. It found that they may also signal a state of general blood vessel damage throughout the entire body.
Microalbumin in the urine has been shown in past studies to be an indicator of retinopathy, nephropathy and neuropathy in people with type I diabetes. Although high levels are also seen as indicators of kidney disease in people with type 2 diabetes, this study was undertaken because of the scarcity of research on type 2s.
This is the first study to demonstrate the association between high urinary microalbumin levels and neuropathy in type 2 diabetes. The study noted that heart disease, the leading cause of death in people with type 2 diabetes, was associated with high protein levels as well.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for over 90 percent of the cases of diabetes in the United States, and while reports vary, the costs from the disease and its complications may be as high as $100 billion dollars per year. The authors of the study note that their discovery represents an important step in the early detection of these complications. They mention early detection as the most important step that can be taken to “minimize the human suffering and costs incurred from the disease.”