World Diabetes Day was celebrated on Nov. 14, the birthday of Frederick Banting.
In 1922, Banting, along with colleagues Charles Best, John Macleod and James Collip, succeeded in isolating the hormone insulin, an achievement which earned a Nobel prize and which would enable countless people who otherwise would have perished, to survive.
Banting mistakenly thought insulin was a cure for diabetes, which it is not.
People with diabetes can certainly live full, productive lives, but many experience a host of devastating complications and often die prematurely, especially from cardiovascular disease.
These individuals whose lives are totally dependent on insulin have Type 1 diabetes.
They now comprise only five to 10 per cent of all people with diabetes.
The great majority of people with diabetes today have what is called Type 2 diabetes, which is caused by lifestyle and is completely preventable.
Obesity, caused by excessive calories and too little exercise, is the primary reason for the current epidemic of T2D.
In 2007 the United Nations identified diabetes as a global threat, responsible for more deaths than malaria and HIV combined.
In September of this year at an international conference in Lisbon, Portugal, the scourge of diabetes was likened to the medieval plague—the Black Death—which killed millions.
The huge global disease burden continues to grow at an alarming rate. One of the main authors of a recent article in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet stated: “It is set to become the single largest burden on world health care systems.”
Recent statistics provided by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization are grim.
One in three American children born in 2000 will develop T2D. The global number of people with diabetes is estimated to be 366 million—one in 20 individuals .
Four out of five new cases develop in mid- to low-income countries so this is emphatically not a disease limited to the wealthy.
T2D is responsible for $465 billion in health care costs.
It is also responsible for more than four million deaths per year—that’s one death per every seven seconds.
In 1991, the IDF and WHO, in an effort to highlight the growing global burden of diabetes, designated Nov. 14 as World Diabetes Day.
In future Capital News articles, Kelowna medical doctors Andrew Farquhar and Henry Chirayath will cover such topics as the size of the problem and the allocation of resources to treat diabetes in B.C., causes of different types of diabetes, diabetes prevention, costs and complications of diabetes, costs and complications of medicines used to treat diabetes, new drugs, diet and exercise in diabetes management and prevention, the role of genetics in diabetes, management of diabetes in hospital, and the importance between heart disease and diabetes.
Readers can send their questions related to diabetes information or treatment to firstname.lastname@example.org, to be dealt with in future articles.
Andrew Farquhar and Henry Chirayath are local doctors who are concerned about the spread of diabetes in the Okanagan.