A Common Cause

By: Jan Chait

Type 2 diabetes can be predicted by increases in microalbuminuria (a measure of protein in the urine). In addition, microalbuminuria, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease develop together over a period of more than two decades, leading researchers from the Framingham Offspring Study in Massachusetts to believe that the three conditions have a common cause.

In this long-term study, which involves 1,311 men and 1,518 women, researchers found that the risk of microalbuminuria was associated with higher blood glucose levels, detectable up to 24 years before elevated protein levels were found in the urine. These findings did not depend on age, elevated blood pressure, or other factors known to increase the risk of microalbuminuria.

Researchers also found that subjects with microalbuminuria were most likely to develop type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In addition, the association between increased protein in the urine and rising blood glucose levels was present even when blood glucose levels were below those used to diagnose diabetes.

Results suggest a common cause for the trio, researchers say, and could mean that interventions to reduce insulin resistance “should begin in childhood and extend well into adult life.”

—Diabetes Care, June 2002

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