The Silent Killer
“Having diabetes is like having a scar on your
face, it will stay there and will never go away. If I
had diabetes, I would always be thinking of how I
would die, or what would happen if I could not eat
what I usually eat.” — Cesar Froylan
Diabetes, so many of us can have it but we may not
even know. It can often go undiagnosed because many of
its symptoms are harmless. There are 20.8 million
people in the U.S that have diabetes and nearly one
third (6.2 million) of them are not aware they have
it. That means 14.4% of the people in the U.S. have
diabetes, and by 2020, scientists believe that, over
50% of the U.S. population will have diabetes.
Diabetes can sometimes be deadly if it is not treated
Diabetes is a disease that happens when the body does
not produce enough or properly use insulin. Insulin is
a hormone that is used to break down sugar, starches
and other foods into energy, which is needed for your
daily life. The cause of diabetes is still a
scientific mystery even though genetics and
environmental factors such as obesity and lack of
exercise are two big contributing factors.
There are many types of diabetes, but the major types
are Type I and Type II diabetes. Type I diabetes is
caused by the body failing to produce enough insulin.
About 5-10% of Americans that have been diagnosed have
Type I diabetes. Type II diabetes is caused by the
body not using insulin properly. Type II diabetes is
more common in the U.S.
In most cases of Type I diabetes, people have to
inherit risk factors from both of their parents.
Researchers want to find out what other environmental
triggers are. One trigger might be cold weather. Type
I diabetes is developed more in the winter than in the
summer, and is most common in colder climates. Another
trigger might be viruses. A virus that has only mild
effects on most people can trigger Type I diabetes. A
way to stop Type I diabetes is by having a healthy
diet at an early age. It is less common in people who
were breastfed and ate solid foods at later ages. In
many people, the development of Type I diabetes takes
There are risks when you have diabetes. If you are a
man with Type I diabetes, the odds of your child
getting diabetes are 1 in 17. If you are a woman with
Type I diabetes, and your child was born before you
were 25, your child’s risk is 1 in 25; if your child
was born after you turned 25, your child’s risk is 1
in 100. Your child’s risk is doubled if you developed
diabetes before you were 11 years old. If both you
and your spouse have Type I diabetes, the risk is
between 1 in 4 and 1 in 10.
Type II diabetes is caused by the genetic passing of
the disease, but it is caused more so by environmental
factors. A family with a history of Type II diabetes
is one of the strongest risk factors to getting that
disease. Type II diabetes is more common in people
that eat too much fat and simple carbohydrates and too
little fiber, and don’t get enough exercise. One
strong risk factor is obesity. Obesity is more risky
for young adults and for people that have been
overweight for a long time. Type II diabetes runs in
families. Another cause is due to children learning
bad habits, eating a poor diet and not exercising.
Can people die from diabetes? I asked Dr. Lawrence
Hammer, who works in Mountain View and the Stanford
University School of Medicine, some questions about
diabetes. He said, “People die from diabetes for two
reasons, either from the diabetes itself or from its
complications. Diabetes itself can cause death from
abnormal blood sugar leading to convulsions, coma, and
death. Complications caused by diabetes can also lead
to death, especially kidney disease and heart failure
both of which are caused by a number of factors
including uncontrolled diabetes.”
Can you get rid of diabetes or control it? “The best
way to get rid of type II diabetes is to lose weight
and stay physically active and on a healthy diet.
Medications can be used to help control it but can’t
cure it. There is no known cure for it. Type I
diabetes can be controlled using insulin injections.
There is no known cure for it, although scientists are
trying to find a way to transplant healthy pancreas
tissue into the pancreas of patients with type I
diabetes, thereby giving them a way to produce insulin
again,” answered Dr. Hammer.
Diabetes has been a huge epidemic in the U.S. for a
long time and the only ways for people to stop
themselves from getting diabetes is to exercise and to
eat healthier. That is the pathway to a healthy life.
However, be aware that diabetes not only occurs in
overweight people, it can happen to everyone.