Stopping Insulin Resistance Before It Leads to Diabetes

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Johns Hopkins Health Alerts reports on new research which has identified a fat cell protein that may predict insulin resistance and help doctors to prescribe treatments to slow the development of type 2 diabetes.

Johns Hopkins Diabetes Health Alerts recently reviewed new research on type 2 diabetes, in which a fat cell protein has been identified that may predict insulin resistance. This biomarker could help doctors to prescribe treatments to slow the development of type 2 diabetes.

WHAT IS INSULIN RESISTANCE?
In a healthy person the pancreas makes enough insulin to keep the supply and use of glucose in balance. In diabetes, the glucose balancing system is disrupted, either because too little insulin is produced or because the body's cells do not respond to insulin normally -- a condition called insulin resistance. The result is an unhealthy rise in blood glucose levels.

WHAT ARE THE DANGERS OF UNTREATED DIABETES?
If diabetes is left untreated, the two principal dangers are the immediate results of high blood glucose levels (which include excessive urination, dehydration, intense thirst, and fatigue) and long-term complications that can affect your eyes, nerves, kidneys, and large blood vessels.

IS IT P0SSIBLE TO SCREEN FOR INSULIN RESISTANCE?
A screening test to identify people with insulin resistance could allow doctors to prescribe treatments or lifestyle measures to stop or slow the development of type 2 diabetes. Researchers have taken a step toward such a screening test, according to a new study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine (Volume 354, page 2552).

THE STUDY RESULTS
In the study, the researchers identified increased blood levels of a protein produced and secreted by fat cells in people who become insulin resistant. The protein's name: retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4).

Scientists already know that people with insulin resistance have increased levels of RBP4. The new study found that levels of RBP4 rose in parallel with the severity of insulin resistance in people who were obese or had prediabetes or type 2 diabetes and in healthy people with a family history of the disease.

HOW TO REDUCE INSULIN RESISTANCE
Researchers are trying to determine whether lowering RBP4 with medication makes cells more sensitive to insulin. However, the study also found that about two thirds of the participants were able to decrease their RBP4 levels and reduce insulin resistance with a tried-and-true lifestyle measure: exercise.

For the latest Johns Hopkins Diabetes Health Alerts, please visit:
Johns Hopkins Diabetes Health Alerts

The 2008 Diabetes White Paper teaches you how to manage your Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and avoid complications, such as nerve damage, heart disease, and retinopathy. This comprehensive guide reviews the latest tools for monitoring your blood glucose and the newest medications for controlling it. For more information, please visit:
Johns Hopkins Diabetes White Paper

For a Free Special Report titled The Johns Hopkins Guide to Controlling Your Diabetes, please visit:
Johns Hopkins Diabetes White Paper

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JOAN MULLALLY
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