Diabetes: People Don’t Get How Serious It Is

Note from Connie: This is scary news indeed. Thanks to the Tara Parker-Pope of The New York Times, we learned about focus groups conducted by the American Diabetes Association, which found that people just aren’t as worried about diabetes as they are about cancer and heart disease. Jennifer Moore brings you the story.

Participants in focus groups conducted by the ADA, generally ranked diabetes a 4 or 5 (out of 10) in severity whereas they gave 9 or 10 scores to cancer and heart disease, according to Tara Parker-Pope’s article in The New York Times.

If these focus groups are any indication of what most Americans think of diabetes, people need a massive wake-up call.

Yes, people can and do live with diabetes. Medications enable diabetics to live longer that they would otherwise, and maybe that creates the impression that diabetes isn’t such a bad thing.  (People aren’t aware that people with diabetes are at greater risk of heart disease, for example, which the focus groups rightly identified as a major problem.)

But people shouldn’t be fooled by the fact that people manage to live with diabetes.

“It is a disease that does have the ability to eat you alive,” ADA president of medicine and science Dr. John Buse says in Parker-Pope’s piece in The New York Times. “It can be just awful — it’s almost unimaginable how bad it can be.”

So just how awful can diabetes get? Check out Parker-Pope’s story for more details on how considerable the damage diabetes can do a person’s body, from head to toe.

The good news is that while way too many Americans already have type 2 diabetes, it is preventable for many people if they eat well, stay trim and exercise. But we can’t let our guard down and think that just because diabetes is treatable that it’s not serious. It is extremely serious, and in some cases, deadly.

Thanks to Parker-Pope on this eye-opening story.

Jennifer Moore for the SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

Diabetic Bodybuilder Sues Redwood City Police For Treatment When In Insulin Shock

A diabetic bodybuilder and Mr. Universe contest winner, who had a skirmish with police outside a Redwood City movie theater last year, has filed a lawsuit against the Redwood City police for excessive force, unreasonable seizure and violation of his civil rights.

The incident — which I wrote about at the time — involved a confused and belligerent Doug Burns, 44, a type 1 diabetic who was in dire neeed of food, about to go into a diabetic coma.

Officers arriving on the scene pepper-sprayed him, beat him in the ribcage with a baton and continued to strike him as he lay on the ground, according to a lawsuit he filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported

As I indicated last year, things began when a guard initially wrongly assumed that Burns was intoxicated (when he was going into insulin shock and was barely making it over to the snack bar). When the guard asked Burns to leave and the almost-in-shock athlete refused, the guard called police.

Apparently, all Burns needed was some food — and quickly. The athlete was reportedly switching to a new diabetes drug and was feeling dizzy and having poor vision so deperately needed to get his glucose levels up.

As the Chronicle’s John Cote reports, "Burns’ federal lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages, attorneys’ fees and court orders requiring the Police Department to adopt `appropriate and lawful’ policies on dealing with diabetic emergencies and to train officers on those procedures.

This is a very sad reflection on the state of our knowledge about diabetes in this country, isn’t it?

High Blood Sugar Linked to Mortality Rates Even in Non-Diabetics

The evidence continues to mount against foods that sweets and culprit carbs (white rice, white bread, most processed crackers, etc.), which, of course raise your blood sugar levels.

Groundbreaking research from Centre for Public Health Research at Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand reveals that elevated blood sugar levels in people without diabetes have a greater likelihood of dying early. In fact, as people’s blood sugar levels increased, so did their risk of premature death.

What’s so intriguing about these findings — which appeared in the June issue of Diabetes Care — is that only a few studies have looked at the connection between blood sugar levels of people who did not have diabetes and their subsequent mortality risks.

Dr. Naomi Brewer of Massey University and her colleagues point out that elevated blood sugar levels are associated with a greater risk of death from a number of causes, including endocrine and metabolic and immunity disorders, as well as diseases of the circulatory system. In addition, the researchers found weaker associations between increasing blood sugar and deaths from cancer and other unknown causes.

A total of 47,904 individuals who did not have diabetes and who had an average age of 38 years, had their blood sugar measured using a hemoglobin A1C test, which gives you an average blood glucose control for the past 2 to 3 months. A total of 815 of the subjects died during the median followup of 4.4 years.

This is the largest study conducted to date of A1C levels, according to the researchers. (The A1C test was given to people without diabetes as part of a screening program for hepatitis B in a region of New Zealand from 1999 to 2001. Mortality risk was examined to the end of 2004 in these subjects.)

This study, the researchers conclude, "confirms previous findings that A1C levels are strongly associated with subsequent mortality in both men and women without a prior diabetes diagnosis."

Thanks to Reuters for the lead on this important study.

Jennifer Moore contributed to this post for the SUGAR SHOCK! Blog.

Rigorous Blood Sugar Control Doesn’t Reduce Risk of Heart Trouble in Diabetics, Research Shows

Note from Connie: It’s intriguing to learn how, contrary to what many experts had long thought, intense blood-sugar reduction drug therapy doesn’t significantly reduce the incidence of heart disease in type 2 diabetics, according to new research in the New England Journal of Medicine. Jennifer Moore brings you details about this study and another.

Another study, also published in the NEJM, found that while intensive blood-glucose control therapy reduced kidney disease in its subjects, it didn’t significantly effect the incidence of "macrovascular events" — that is, heart attack, stroke, or loss of blood supply to the limbs (which can lead to amputation if it’s severe). This research from Australian scientists also found that the intensive medication regimen increased the rate of severe hypoglycemia amongst patients.

These findings from the ACCORD and ADVANCE trials caused a stir earlier in 2008 (read this blog’s take on them both here and here).

So what should we make of all of this? A pair of editorials accompanying these studies (here and here) provide some insights.

But a third article, written by Harlan M. Krumholz, M.D., and Thomas H. Lee, M.D., gets to the crux of the matter: "Lifestyle interventions may have few risks," they write, "but we cannot assume the same for drugs — and drug-related risks are not always known or appreciated….ACCORD, ADVANCE, and other recent studies remind us that practice is complex and that ultimately we need to understand a strategy’s effects on people, not just on surrogate end points."

Clearly, treating type 2 diabetes can be complicated, so it seems that a person’s best bet is to reduce the chance of getting the disease in the first place, via a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.

Thanks to New York Times’ reporter Gina Kolata for the tip on this surprising news, which was also covered by the AP, Reuters, USA TODAY, and WebMD.

Jennifer Moore for SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

Lifestyle Changes May Delay Onset of Diabetes for Years, Study Indicates

Note from Connie: Yet another study comes to conclusions that demonstrate how important it it to quit eating junk and to start exercising. Jennifer brings you the details.

Research just published in The Lancet indicates that lifestyle changes — exercise and improved diet — may delay the onset of diabetes for several years.

From 1986 until 1992, 577 Chinese adults with impaired glucose tolerance were assigned to either change their diet, get more exercise, make both dietary and exercise changes, or to a control group in which they didn’t follow any diet or exercise program.

Researchers then assessed all the study subjects in 2006. What did they find?

"Group-based lifestyle interventions over 6 years can prevent or delay diabetes for up to 14 years after the active intervention," the study’s authors wrote.

Now, unfortunately, 80% of the people in the lifestyle change group were diabetic by 2006 (though an even more whopping 93% of people in the control group suffered the same fate).

Still, it’s great that eating better and exercising can give people more years of good health. Steven Reinberg at Health Day and Michael Kahn of Reuters both covered this positive news.

Jennifer Moore for SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

Pregnant Women Beware: Elevated Blood Sugar Levels Raise Your Risk of Complications, Study Finds

Note from Connie: Pregnant women, please take note: If your blood sugar levels are high (which are undoubtedly caused by the culprit carbs you’re eating), you’re playing with fire! You are putting yourself and your baby for a number of health risks just because of your bad dietary habits. While I already spotlighted this development in my book SUGAR SHOCK!, yet another study just came out, which documents this discovery. Jennifer Moore gives you more info.

Pregnant women with blood sugar counts that are elevated but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes are at higher risk of problems like pre-eclampsia, premature delivery, and more, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Boyd Metzger. M.D., of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and his colleagues also found that women with higher blood sugar during pregnancy increased the chance that their newborns would suffer hypoglycemia, injuries during birth, and a greater likelihood of being delivered via c-section.

So sad to think of tiny, helpless newborns being at higher risk of having a tough introduction to the world because of their mothers’ high blood sugar levels. Karla Gale of Reuters alerted me to this starling news.

Jennifer Moore for SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

Some Fat May Provide Protection from Diabetes, Study Says

Note from Connie: It’s always fascinating to learn about new research relating to obesity, diabetes, etc. But this latest discovery offers an interesting twist. Jennifer Moore brings you the info.

Subcutaneous fat — the kind found right under the skin around the buttocks and hips — may actively protect against diabetes, according to research in Cell Metabolism.

Ronald Kahn, M.D. of Harvard Medical School and his team took both subcutaneous and belly fat from some mice and injected these substances into other mice, either under their skin or into their abdomens.

The mice who received the subcutaneous fat lost weight and improved their blood glucose and insulin levels and their insulin sensitivity, particularly those who got the fat injections in their abdominal areas.

Thanks to Julie Steenhuysen of Reuters for providing the tip to this intriguing study.

Jennifer Moore for SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

Type 2 Diabetics Suffer Faster Lung Deterioration, Study Finds

Note from Connie: Diabetes, we already know, has so many complications, but now chalk up yet another one — decreased ability in the lungs. Jennifer Moore brings you the details.

As we age, it’s normal for the lungs to function less well, but Diabetes Care recently published a study finding that diabetics suffer even faster decline than is normal with age.

"Based on the current study, we suggest physicians add lung function on the watch list as they care for their diabetes patients," lead author Hsin-Chieh Jessica Yeh, Ph.D. of Johns Hopkins University said, as quoted in a Health Day news story about research that’s part of a larger government investigation into atherosclerosis.

Diabetes can affect so many parts of a person’s health and their quality of life. All the more reason it’s vital for people to take steps to avoid it.

Jennifer Moore for SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

Diabetes: Learn if You Have This Disease

Yesterday was Diabetes Alert Day, a time designated by the American Diabetes Association to learn if you have this disease.

Learn about this potentially deadly disease by listening now to my Stop SUGAR SHOCK! Radio Show on Tuesday. The topic was diabetes.

My guests included:

  • Ann Albright, Ph.D., R.D., President, Health Care & Education for the American Diabetes Association
  • Cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, M.D., C.N.C. who is contributing author for my book SUGAR SHOCK!
  • Nutritionist Jonny Bowden, Ph.D.
  • Listen now to this fascinating show.

    Diabetes Alert Day is Tuesday: Experts Help You Learn if You’re One of Millions of Americans With Diabetes or at Risk of Getting It?

    Are you one of 6 million Americans who have diabetes but don’t know it?

    Or are you one of 54 million people in the U.S. with pre-diabetes, which means you’re at risk for getting the disease?

    It’s imperative that you get the facts now and start taking care of yourself.

    For Diabetes Alert Day, which is Tuesday, I’m presenting a special Stop SUGAR SHOCK! Radio Show at 3 p.m. EST to educate people about diabetes, which now has hit some 21 million people in the U.S., of which 6 million have not yet been diagnosed.

    Make sure to tell your loved ones. Listen live or afterwards here.