"Kidney disease is a major lethal complication for people with diabetes, particularly those with Type I diabetes, and until now there has been no clear explanation for its cause beyond blood sugar itself," says principal investigator Dr. Trevor Orchard, acting chairman of the department of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.
"We now suspect that reducing or preventing insulin resistance, possibly through exercise, weight loss and drugs, may help people with Type I diabetes avoid nephropathy (kidney disease)," Orchard says.In this study, he and his colleagues analyzed data from the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complication Study (PEDCS) -- a 10-year project involving 658 adults with Type I diabetes.
The researchers focused on 485 people who didn't have nephropathy at the start of the study. They tracked them and found 56 of them developed nephropathy sometime during the 10-year span of PEDCS.
In all those people, there was a strong relationship between insulin resistance and nephropathy, the study found. The researchers measured insulin resistance by using a calculation based on waist-to-hip ratio, hypertension status and long-term blood sugar levels.
Up to 40 percent of people with Type I diabetes develop kidney disease, in which the kidneys become unable to filter wastes and excess water from the blood.
For more on kidney disease, go to the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases.