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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Towards a Future without Diabetes

The number of people affected by diabetes climbs every year. Can we get rid of this expensive and inconvenient disease?

The answer for type 2 diabetes is a resounding ‘yes’. Weight gain, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle are risk factors which are both easy to spot, and possible to correct as well. Type 2 diabetes is preceded by a spell of many years in the pre-diabetes stage. Hence type 2 diabetes can only raise its head with people who do not take annual medical examinations, or with those who do not heed warnings.

We are close to a most workable answer with insulin pumps for type 1 diabetes. Children and adult can lead nearly normal lives with these modern devices, though adherence to food and exercise routines still matter.

Stem cell research and other routes of tissue culture hold out the promise that we could soon have new pancreatic tissue generated in bodies. Scientists are also close to using animal pancreatic tissue for incorporation in human systems. There is light at the end of the tunnel with respect to eliminating both types of diabetes, but it could be a decade before such products and systems are ready for the market.

Even today’s technology makes it possible to live well with diabetes. Modern medicine can manage this disease relatively better than many other conditions. However, much depends of patient compliance, because no one can help if you reach for the candy and skip walks!

Preventing the complications of diabetes is a key social and public health objective. Diabetes can take away eye sight and parts of limbs. It can also disrupt normal heart and kidney functions. However, simple vigilance and observance of prescriptions can keep these terrible outcomes far away.


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