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Nabil Andrawis, MD
Can Diabetes Be Prevented?
Burke Internal Medicine, Inc.
. http://www.burkeinternalmed.com

Can Diabetes Be Prevented?

A number of studies have shown that regular physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes also appears to be associated with obesity.
Researchers are making progress in identifying the exact genetics and “triggers” that predispose some individuals to develop type 1 diabetes, but prevention remains elusive.
What are the most important things to do to prevent diabetes?
The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a major federally funded study of 3,234 people at high risk for diabetes, showed that people can delay and possibly prevent the disease by losing a small amount of weight (5-7 percent of total body weight) through 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week and healthier eating. Being overweight or obese is a leading risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Being overweight can keep your body from making and using insulin properly, and can also cause high blood pressure.
When should I be tested for diabetes?

Anyone aged 45 years or older should consider getting tested for diabetes, especially if you are overweight. If you are younger than 45, but are overweight and have one or more additional risk factors (see below), you should consider testing.

What are the risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing diabetes?

Being overweight or obese

A parent, brother, or sister with diabetes
African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic American/Latino heritage
Prior history of gestational diabetes or birth of at least one baby weighing more than nine pounds
High blood pressure measuring 140/90 or higher
Abnormal cholesterol with HDL (“good”) cholesterol is 35 or lower, or triglyceride level is 250 or higher
Physical inactivity exercising fewer than three times a week


Is there a cure for diabetes?

In response to the growing health burden of diabetes, the diabetes community has three choices prevent diabetes; cure diabetes; and improve the quality of care of people with diabetes to prevent devastating complications. All three approaches are actively being pursued by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are involved in prevention activities. The NIH is involved in research to cure both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, especially type 1. The CDC focuses most of its programs on being sure that the proven science is put into daily practice for people with diabetes. The basic idea is that if all the important research and science are not applied meaningfully in the daily lives of people with diabetes, then the research is, in essence, wasted.
Several approaches to “cure” diabetes are being pursued including
Pancreas transplantation
Islet cell transplantation (islet cells produce insulin)
Artificial pancreas development
Genetic manipulation (fat or muscle cells that dont normally make insulin have a human insulin gene inserted then these “pseudo” islet cells are transplanted into people with type 1 diabetes).
Each of these approaches still has a lot of challenges, such as preventing immune rejection; finding an adequate number of insulin cells; keeping cells alive; and others. But progress is being made in all areas.
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