(RxWiki News) Diabetes can lead to many other health problems, including eye, kidney, and heart disease.
Researchers have found that some people with type 1 diabetes may have a natural protection against these serious complications.
Looking at a group of Medalists (people who have had diabetes for 50 years or more), researchers found that a high percentage of these long-term survivors remained free of diabetes-related complications.
While the study does not show what keeps these patients complication-free, uncovering the Medalists' protection could help other diabetics live longer.
"It is possible to live a very long time with diabetes."
It is likely that part of the reason these diabetes patients survived for more than 50 years without complications is that they managed their disease well.
However, the study's authors write that controlling blood sugar was unrelated to patients' likelihood of developing complications.
For their study, researchers looked at rates of complications in 351 people who had survived type 1 diabetes for 50 years or more. They found that almost 43 percent had never developed eye disease, nearly 87 percent remained free of kidney disease, about 39 percent had never experienced nerve damage, and a little over half had never developed heart disease.