''This study clearly demonstrates and documents that there can be a large number of people who can go a very, very long time with type 1 diabetes and not suffer with dire complications," says researcher George L. King, MD, chief scientific officer at Joslin Diabetes Center and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
The study is published in Diabetes Care.
Explaining why is not simple, however. In the study, being free or nearly free of complications didn't correlate directly with control of blood sugar, King says.
He isn't discounting the importance of blood sugar control. It's shown to reduce the risk of complications. However, his study suggests other mechanisms may help explain the protection from complications he found in some.
''Overall, about 20% do not have any eye, kidney, or nerve disease," King tells WebMD.
Role of Proteins
King's team evaluated blood sugar levels in the participants. On average, blood sugar levels were under good control. The average hemoglobin A1c test, a reflection of blood sugar levels over the past three months or so, was 7.3%. Experts often recommend those with diabetes keep A1c at 7% or below.