Health Matters – Diabetes

Diabetes: A Rising Health Crisis

More than two million Canadians have diabetes

Diabetes was first observed in 1552 BC, when the physician Hesy-Ra recorded frequent urination as a symptom. Until the 11th century, diabetes was diagnosed by a group known as water tasters. Their job was to drink the urine of people who were thought to have diabetes. If the urine was sweet tasting, a diagnosis of diabetes was confirmed.

In the beginning of the 19th century, the first test using chemicals to measure the presence of sugar in urine was developed. By the late 19th century Claude Bernard began studying the link between the pancreas and the glycogen metabolism of the liver. Twenty years later, Oskar Minkowski and Joseph von Mering removed the pancreas of a dog to determine its effect on digestion.

On November 14, 1891, an event occurred that was eventually to have a profound effect on the study of this disease: Frederick Banting was born near Alliston, Ontario.

In 1912, Frederick Banting enrolled in medical school at the University of Toronto. He opened his medical practice in July 1920 and by October of that same year he had conceived of the idea of insulin. Within two years, human insulin testing began.

On October 25, 1923, Dr. Banting and Professor John Macleod were awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. In 1934, Dr. Banting was knighted, thus becoming Sir Frederick Banting, and advances in the treatment and management of diabetes have continued to the present day.

In spite of the ongoing progress in the management of diabetes, it continues to be a ?serious public health problem? as stated by Health Canada. Two million Canadians have diabetes and that figure continues to rise. The financial costs to the Canadian health care system are an estimated $13.2 billion every year.

There are many reasons for this upswing in diabetes, for example our aging population, rising obesity, and increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

Diabetes can be divided into three types. Type 1 is usually diagnosed in childhood or early adolescence and occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin. Type 2 occurs in adulthood when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body is unable to effectively use the insulin that is produced. The third type is gestational diabetes, which is a temporary condition affecting 3.5 per cent of all pregnancies. Ninety percent of all diabetes is Type 2.

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented, but it can be managed with daily insulin injections along with other medications. The onset of Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, can be prevented or delayed by making some important lifestyle changes including healthy eating, regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight.

The Canadian Diabetes Association suggests the following lifestyle guidelines for anyone living with Type 2 diabetes:

1. Take medications regularly

2. Regular physical activity promotes weight loss and helps to lower blood glucose levels

3. Proper nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight is an important factor in regulating blood glucose levels

4. Learning to reduce stress levels is beneficial for people with diabetes

Furthermore, it is vital to monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure in addition to Type 2 diabetes can lead to a wide variety of medical conditions including heart disease and kidney disease.

The most important factor in preventing or managing your diabetes is to get tested regularly. One third of people who have diabetes don’t realize they have it.

Additional information is available on the Canadian Diabetes Association and Health Canada websites.

%d bloggers like this: