Veteran diabetics experience less complications, study finds

NEW YORK — Patients that have been handling their diabetes for a long time are less likely to experience complications, according to a new study conducted by Joslin Diabetes Center researchers.

Among 351 participants in the "Joslin 50-Year Medalist Study," researchers found that among veteran Type 1 diabetics — who have been living with the condition for 50 years or more — 43% were free from advanced diabetic eye complications, while 87% were free from kidney disease, 39% were free from nerve disease and 52% were free from cardiovascular disease.

The data "are strong evidence that protective molecular, physiologic or genetic mechanisms in these fortunate individuals fight against the toxic effects of high blood sugars over many decades," said Jennifer Sun, author of one of the papers, which was published in Diabetes Care.

"Insights from the 'Medalist Study' are great motivators for patients who have just been diagnosed with diabetes or are early in the disease, particularly younger kids and adolescents," Sun said. "We can tell these patients that we encourage them to control their blood sugars and get their recommended diabetes care, because they can live many decades with excellent vision and the chance to avoid other severe complications."