To describe serum total and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in a sample of people with diabetes.

Research Design and Methods

Subjects were those who participated in the 1984-1986 Wisconsin Epidemiologic Study of Diabetic Retinopathy. Data were from three groups of subjects: 304 younger-onset and 185 older-onset people taking insulin and 162 older-onset individuals not taking insulin. Serum lipids, duration of diabetes, glycosylated hemoglobin, diastolic blood pressure, sex, age, serum creatinine, units of insulin per kiliogram per day, smoking status, serum C-peptide level, and alcohol use were analyzed statistically.


In subjects taking insulin, glycosylated hemoglobin was correlated most strongly with total cholesterol. In those not taking insulin, C-peptide was correlated most strongly. In subjects taking insulin, the units used per day (fewer)and sex (female) were significantly associated with higher HDL cholesterol, and in both older-onset groups, serum C-peptide was significantly associated with lower HDL cholesterol. Mean total cholesterol levels were generally higher and mean HDL cholesterol levels were generally lower than those found in a nondiabetic comparison group.


By the National Cholesterol Education Program guidelines, 17% of younger-onset and 30% of older-onset insulin users and 32% of olderonset subjects not taking insulin were in the high-risk range for total cholesterol. Lower levels of glycosylated hemoglobin might result in lower cholesterol levels.

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