Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Public Service Announcement (Sugar Sugar)

There's a public service announcement going around on radio that always gets my attention. The announcer reads a series of statistics concerning deaths from smoking [Yes, I smoke, but I usually listen carefully to the anti-smoking PSA's. It's either an attempt to hear the words that will help me to quit, or an ill-advised attempt to feel guilty for smoking], but saying that the deaths were caused by bears. It ends with the announcer saying, "No, these deaths weren't caused by bears. But what do you think the government would do if they were?" It's striking, and, as I say, always gets my attention.

Since I do smoke, I don't think it's fair for me to get into that situation. But can I please take a moment to attract your attention to another health crisis that has gotten media attention, but seems to draw indifference when the subject comes up? Unfortunately, I have some knowledge on this one, too. Let me share it with you.

This disease affects a little less than 21 million Americans, around 7 % of the population. While most who have it are aware, just over 6 million, or nearly 1/3, have no idea that they do. What's worse, 54 million Americans have an early-stage form of the disease. There is no cure, but treatment allows many of its sufferers to lead longer, healthier lives. The disease is diabetes.(This is the point where a lot of eyes glaze over. Hang in there, people, THIS IS IMPORTANT!)

Diabetes makes it difficult or impossible for your body to convert sugars, starches and other foods into energy needed for everyday life (For the record, fruits and vegetables in their natural state contain sugars, so just avoiding things like cake and bread isn't usually good enough. Neither is avoiding fruits and vegetables in their natural states...). Diabetes is a disease that makes it easier for other diseases to hurt or kill you [Yes. "kill". The complications of diabetes can kill...]. Among the diseases that are made worse by diabetes are heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, eye, foot and skin diseases. A very common complication of diabetes is neuropathy, damage to the nervous system that can cause pain, injury and/or disease.

It's not a pretty picture. But early diagnosis and treatment can minimise the damage, and allow you to live a [relatively, anyway] normal life. Treatment is improving on an almost-daily basis, due to continuing research.

What can you do? First of all, know where you stand. Get tested [usually, a simple blood test will suffice]. If it turns out you have diabetes, put together a health care team [your doctor, a podiatrist, an eye-care specialist, heart and kidney experts, a dietitian and, most importantly, a diabetic educator. Think of the educator as your diabetes specialist. They keep up with the latest information on diabetes, so that you can have the advantage of the latest techniques for treatment. As good as your doctor may be, most of them don't specialize in diabetes treatment], and FOLLOW THEIR ADVICE!

A personal note for parents: by experience, you've learned that a lot of things you're told not to do with your kids [not too much TV, no violent cartoons, etc.]didn't kill our generation. But watching what your kids eat may help not to kill them too young. Part of that number of diabetics at the start of this message is a rather large number of teens [and even pre-teens] being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, formerly found only in adults, and adults in their 50's and older at that. Having grown up fat, I can tell you the emotional scars take a long time to overcome. Adding the likelihood of disease, and the very real possibility of early death, just makes it an unacceptable option. I don't fault my parents for what happened to me; they made every effort to help me when I was young [Of course, I turned out to be stubborn]. For the sake of your children's health, please make the effort...

For more information, talk to your doctor. Visit this website;, home to the American Diabetes Association. If you're reading this outside the US, visit the Diabetes Association in your country. Becoming disciplined in such matters may not be easy: it's far better than the cornucopia of illness and disease that awaits if you don't. Thank you for your time...

-Mike Riley


Adam said...

Hi Mike, First off, thanks for your post on my blog. It was a while ago and I apologize for the delay in coming to check out what you have written.

I follow med and science stuff, and there has been a tremendous amount of research recently into the types of fat in the human body, how they communicate with each other, and how they are or are not causal to diseases such as diabetes.

Interestingly, there are 2 major separate fat deposits in the body - 1 under the skin and 1 over the stomach. A larger ratio of fat mass over the stomach to subdermal is correlated with tons of bad health stuff, but sub dermal fat alone doesn't seem to hurt and cam help. Interesting stuff. I think it was in Discover 2 months ago but I'm hazy on that. It's 5AM and I'm underslept. Take care and KEEP WRITING!!!

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