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22-04-2010 | Diabetes | Article

Larger thighs linked to reduced risk for CAD in women with Type 1 diabetes


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MedWire News: Greater lower body adiposity is associated with reduced risk for coronary artery disease (CAD) in women with Type 1 diabetes, say researchers.

In contrast, higher percentage trunk fat mass (FM) was linked to increased risk for CAD in the same group of patients.

“CAD is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Type 1 diabetes,” explain Christina Shay (Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA) and team. “The development of CAD occurs decades earlier and at a 10-fold magnitude in Type 1 diabetics compared to non-diabetic individuals.”

They say: “While the factors associated with greater CAD risk in this population have been well documented, the pathogenesis is still unclear.”

To investigate predictors of CAD in Type 1 diabetics, Shay and colleagues collected data from 163 Type 1 diabetics from the Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications study at their 18-year examination.

The participants underwent dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) to assess body fat content and distribution at the 18 year examination. The researchers also collected information on their CAD status (defined as the presence of myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis with or without revascularization, angina, or high coronary artery calcium), as well as other anthropometric and physiological data.

The investigators report that participants with CAD had significantly lower percentage leg FM (33.42% vs 36.96%) and higher percentage trunk FM (48.33% vs 45.18%) than those without CAD, after adjustment for age, gender, height, and total adiposity.

In women, but not men, each 1-standard deviation (SD) increase in percentage leg FM was associated with a significant 60% reduction in CAD risk.

Conversely, each 1-SD increase in percentage trunk FM increased CAD risk 2.79-fold in women, but not men.

“The novel finding from this investigation is that a preference to store body fat in the lower limbs appears to be associated with a lower prevalence of CAD in women but not men with Type 1 diabetes, even after controlling for general obesity and other CAD risk factors” conclude Shay et al in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.

“This finding confirms previous observations that leg and trunk adiposity have independent and opposite associations with CAD risk factors, but this is the first report of these associations using DEXA-assessed adiposity measures in Type 1 diabetes,” they add.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert