In another way, Diabetes Awareness Month is very frustrating to me... because it is, in many ways, National Recrimination Month. I can conspiracy-theory-spin this all the way to the bank, but I won't... Instead, I'll just share a few simple truths with you:
- Type 2 Diabetes Awareness, largely focuses on telling people that their Diabetes is preventable, and that 80-90% of the cases could have been avoided. Now, I'm curious... did anyone send you a survey, or knock on your door asking you how you got your diabetes? Did they ask you what medications you take, what other illnesses you have, or come over and take blood samples from you? No? Oh. Well... That's because when people are throwing that statistic around, they are usually mentioning either of these two studies... (Most people, or organizations, WON'T EVEN REFERENCE THEM. I had to dig DEEP just to find these two.)
- Diet, Lifestyle, and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Women: Frank B. Hu, M.D., JoAnn E. Manson, M.D., Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Graham Colditz, M.D., Simin Liu, M.D., Caren G. Solomon, M.D., and Walter C. Willett, M.D. N Engl J Med 2001; 345:790-797. September 13, 2001. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa010492#t=articleDiscussion
- Lifestyle Factors and Risk for New-Onset Diabetes: A Population-Based Cohort Study. Jared P. Reis, PhD; Catherine M. Loria, PhD; Paul D. Sorlie, PhD; Yikyung Park, PhD; Albert Hollenbeck, PhD; and Arthur Schatzkin, MD, PhD†. http://www.annals.org/content/155/5/292.abstract
Now... what's wrong with using this to badger people with diabetes? Well, for starters, these types of studies are OBSERVATIONAL studies. Meaning a.) they rely largely on demographic data from participants, and not on laboratory studied, measured, clinical data, b.) they make assumptions on what a healthy diet means, b.) they rely on anecdotal testimony on what participants may claim are their risk markers for a family history, c.) they do not account for racial, or ethnic risk markers, d.) they use limited populations of people that may or may not represent the overall population, in certain circumstances (like ALL nurses, which their occupation already may put STRESS as a HUGE factor in diagnosis.), e.) they don't tell how many of the total participants in the studies were actually overweight or obese, regardless of diabetes development, f.) they control for common things, like metabolic syndrome, but not for other critical factors, such as different illnesses, medications, pollution, toxins, etc., g.) They assume things like high triglycerides, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, are ALL preventable things (completely ignoring their genetic components), and what's worse... h.) These studies assume that because the rest of the people were able to, somehow, avoid getting Type 2 Diabetes... that those people who did get it, should have been able to avoid it, too! I think that it's very evident that we are all UNIQUE, as our fingerprints, and that unless we were able to magically step back in time, and redirect those people who got Type 2 diabetes, we will never truly be able to tell if they could have prevented their illness just by comparing them to other strangers! That's like saying I could have avoided getting late to work, like 'Jenny did,' without taking into account a.) my car breaking down, b.) people having an accident and blocking the main roadways, c.) tornado warnings being issued, etc., etc. These studies tell you NOTHING about these people other than many of them have a poor diet, like MOST Americans do. Yet MOST Americans will NOT develop Diabetes. These studies will NOT tell you anything about the chemistry inside these people's bodies, or even WHY they might be overeating, or addicted to nicotine, or alcohol. As discussed in my About Diabetes post, Type 2 Diabetes is a HELL of a lot more complicated than these simplistic studies.I am SICK and TIRED of hearing this old line used to badger poor people who got a disease they DIDN'T WANT. NO ONE wants Diabetes. NO ONE. While I can't say that there aren't folks out there, in the world, who love food... or love to pig out, or drink, or smoke, for the sake of doing these things... I can tell you that that is HARDLY an excuse to say everyone else who developed a disease was EXACTLY LIKE THAT. What's worse are the George Burns of the world who smoked till they were 100, and had NO PROBLEMS ever with lung cancer, or the Manuel Uribe's of the world, who weigh in around 1,000 lbs, and have no high blood pressure, no high cholesterol, no triglycerides, and no diabetes. Healthy eating and exercising can benefit EVERYONE, and they are ways to help us EXTEND our chances for good, overall health, and have more energy for life... but they are not a passport to a disease free life. I recall a next door neighbor, from my childhood... Jogged every day, very fit, and thin... Died at 42, from a sudden heart attack. No family history. His dad, by contrast, smoked like a chimney ALL HIS LIFE and didn't die until well into his old age, when he actually presented complications. Diet and exercise will NOT 100% prevent anyone from getting Type 2 Diabetes, nor should it be presented that way. Am I saying we should push the lottery of life? NO. No way in hell. But what I AM saying is that telling people they could have avoided giving themselves a disease is a.) Unhelpful, and b.) Not the complete picture of things, and probably, very untruthful.
|My father, near diagnosis.|
|My father, 10+ years after diagnosis|
EVERYONE deserves a cure. Everyone deserves a dad, or a loved one, to come home to... Spend Christmases with... and walk them down the isle. Everyone. You owe it to me, ADA. You owe it to EVERY person with Diabetes, of EVERY type.
It's time you get off your sofa, stop pigging out on chips and soda bought with big pharma money.. AND FIND A CURE.