If you’re one of the more than 420 million people around the world living with diabetes, you’re likely already well aware of the condition and its consequences.
For those who perhaps aren’t as well informed about the metabolism disorder, Nov. 14 was World Diabetes Day, and November is Diabetes Awareness Month.
Diabetes is a condition in which the body either can’t produce insulin or is unable to properly use the insulin it produces. Consequently, it leads to high blood sugar levels which can damage organs, blood vessels and nerves. It’s a leading cause of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and lower-limb amputation.
About 90 per cent of diabetes cases involve type 2, which at one time was known as called non-insulin dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can often initially be controlled through diet and exercise, but over time will generally require reliance on oral drugs or insulin.
Type 1, formerly known as juvenile-onset diabetes, describes people whose bodies produce very little or no insulin, so they require daily insulin injections to control glucose levels in the blood. Type 1 diabetes isn’t nearly as common, but you might be surprised to note the following celebrities who live or have lived with the condition, including actresses Halle Berry, Mary Tyler Moore and Elizabeth Perkins, comedian Jerry Lewis, singer-actress Vanessa Williams, musician-actor Nick Jonas, NHL player Max Domi, Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke, rock singer and reality TV star Bret Michaels, former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler, and British Prime Minister Theresa May, to name a few.
Diabetes Canada notes that in this country, there are 11 million people living with diabetes or prediabetes. Every three minutes, another Canadian is diagnosed with diabetes, so chances are you know someone with the disorder if you don’t have it yourself. That fits with this year’s World Diabetes Day theme of “Family and Diabetes.” As the World Diabetes Day website notes, “Diabetes concerns every family.”
The number of diabetes cases worldwide is almost equivalent to the populations of Canada, the United States and Great Britain combined, and the total is projected to grow to 522 million by 2030. It’s also estimated that one in two people with diabetes remain undiagnosed.
The good news with respect to type 2 diabetes is that 80 per cent of such cases are preventable by adopting a healthy lifestyle, and the same strategy can allow those living with type 2 to live a long, healthy life.
The prevalence of diabetes means not only is awareness important, but also support for those who live their daily lives with the condition.