Cholesterol levels and type 1 diabetes

Cholesterol (or lipid) problems in people with type 1 diabetes are usually related to the lack of insulin.

  • Lack of insulin increases the level of triglycerides. Normally, insulin makes a certain enzyme remove triglycerides from the blood. When insulin is used to treat high blood sugar, the triglyceride level goes back to normal.
  • A lack of insulin (and the high blood sugar that results) raises the level of "bad" cholesterol (LDL, or low-density lipoprotein). It returns to normal when insulin is given.

Data from the Diabetes Complications and Control Trial (DCCT) showed that people with type 1 diabetes had cholesterol levels similar to people without diabetes when their blood sugar levels were kept within a near-normal range.1

This does not apply to people with nephropathy, because once the kidney starts losing even small amounts of protein, cholesterol problems begin to develop.


  1. DCCT Research Group (1992). Lipid and lipoprotein levels in patients with IDDM diabetes control and complication. Trial experience. Diabetes Care, 15(7): 886–894.

Last Updated: October 3, 2008

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