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C-reactive protein (CRP) is an inflammation marker that has been implicated in the development of type 2 diabetes in Caucasians (see "A New Buzzword," November 2002, p. 66). However, a new study has found that, among Mexicans, CRP is likely to predict type 2 diabetes in women but not in men.
Researchers in the United Kingdom, Mexico and the United States who evaluated 515 women and 729 men from the Mexico City Diabetes Study report that, while CRP correlated strongly with the metabolic syndrome in women, the association was weaker in men.
The metabolic syndrome includes two or more of the following: blood lipid disorder, defined as high triglycerides or low HDL ("good") cholesterol; high blood pressure; and diabetes.
At the beginning of the study, none of the subjects had diabetes and none had more than one of the metabolic syndrome markers. After six years, 14.2 percent of the men and 16 percent of the women had developed the metabolic syndrome. Of that group, 44.1 percent of the men and 46.2 percent of the women had developed diabetes. The incidence of the metabolic syndrome—adjusted for age, smoking, alcohol use and physical activity—was significantly higher in women with higher levels of CRP.
A novel finding in this study is that high levels of CRP in women predicted metabolic syndrome even in the absence of obesity and insulin resistance.
The researchers note that most previous studies on CRP and diabetes have not separated results for men and women.
—Diabetes Care, November 2002
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