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Another Study Suggests Inflammation May Trigger Diabetes

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Still, Ridker says it is too soon to recommend using CRP testing to gauge the risk for diabetes.

Om Ganda, MD, of the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School, both in Boston, tells WebMD that Ridker's new study is "one of a number of recent studies that have indicated that low-grade chronic inflammation might underlie type 2 diabetes." But Ganda says that there are still several unanswered questions.

"There is a very small number of diabetic cases in this study, just 188 women," says Ganda. He says it is difficult to make assumptions based on so few cases.

Diabetes specialist Zachary Bloomgarden, MD, tells WebMD that the new study is interesting but not convincing. He points out that Ridker is measuring very low levels of the blood factors, so low that the elevations reported don't suggest "clinical inflammation," meaning that there would be none of the usual physical signs of inflammation such as swelling.

So what Ridker is seeing, says Bloomgarden, may be another aspect of these indicators. He says, for example, that CRP is also produced by fat tissue, especially abdominal fat. He says that CRP produced by fat can affect organs "such as the pancreas, leading to a state of insulin resistance." So it may be that the significance of CRP to diabetes is not as an indicator for inflammation but rather as a "mediator," or causative agent, of the disease process.

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