Today, 425 million adults live with diabetes, and that number is expected to grow to 629 million by 2045, with the greatest number between the ages of 40 to 59 years old. The global prevalence of diabetes has risen from 4.7 percent in 1980 to 8.5 percent in 2014, with the proportion of type 2 diabetes increasing around the world. On top of those numbers, another whopping 352 million people are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to the 2017 Economic Cost of Diabetes survey sponsored by the American Diabetes Association, the total cost of diabetes was estimated to be $327 billion, a 26 percent increase since 2012. About three-quarters of those costs are associated with direct medical expenditures. Patients with diabetes are expected to pay an average of $9,600 in additional medical costs annually. A diabetes cure could cut out a nice chunk of fat out of those costs, potentially worth $245 billion from the 30 million diabetic Americans alone.
In diabetes, either the pancreas makes insufficient levels of insulin so cells absorb glucose poorly or cells themselves become insulin resistant and thus unable to absorb glucose despite adequate insulin levels. Both types of change increase blood sugar levels above normal. Parsed this way, type I and type II diabetes overlap some but also differ.
Diabetes doesn’t cause nearly as much of a stir in the media compared to HIV or cancer, but a few well-known names are associated with the disease – Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, and Paula Deen. And who doesn’t love that Food Network maven and American celebrity chef? Scandals aside, diabetes comes in two versions – Type I or Type II. In Type I, the pancreas decides to drop out of the physiological rat race and go on to discover its own metabolic purpose in life. As a result, the body generates little or no insulin, a hormone important in sugar metabolism. In Type II, unfortunate dietary choices, such as eating tons of sugar and carbohydrates, jam up the sugar absorption process, causing the body to become resistant to the insulin hormone. Type 2 makes up 90 percent of all cases of diabetes, which is going to be our focus here as we talk about when there will be a cure for diabetes. (Spoiler alert: Probably only after we ban the Big Gulp and the Big Mac.)
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by specialized cells (beta cells) of the pancreas. (The pancreas is a deep-seated organ in the abdomen located behind the stomach.) In addition to helping glucose enter the cells, insulin is also important in tightly regulating the level of glucose in the blood. After a meal, the blood glucose level rises. In response to the increased glucose level, the pancreas normally releases more insulin into the bloodstream to help glucose enter the cells and lower blood glucose levels after a meal. When the blood glucose levels are lowered, the insulin release from the pancreas is turned down. It is important to note that even in the fasting state there is a low steady release of insulin than fluctuates a bit and helps to maintain a steady blood sugar level during fasting. In normal individuals, such a regulatory system helps to keep blood glucose levels in a tightly controlled range. As outlined above, in patients with diabetes, the insulin is either absent, relatively insufficient for the body's needs, or not used properly by the body. All of these factors cause elevated levels of blood glucose (hyperglycemia).
The same thing applies to the chronic back and leg pain so many people have. There may be a few pain signals coming up from tired muscles or joints toward the brain. Those signals go through nerve centers called “pain gates.” Those “gates” are where the signals are mixed with other sense data, feelings, and body states such as tension. In people with chronic pain, the gates amplify the signals over and over until the pain is severe. They do this because the brain thinks the person needs to be warned away from a real threat, such as taking a hand out of the fire so it doesn’t burn.
According to Jack D. Bragg, DO, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Missouri, most diabetes-related GI issues stem from a problem with one thing: motion. The digestive tract is a finely tuned muscular machine. It pulls and pushes, expands and contracts, relaxes and squeezes to carry food from your mouth, down the esophagus, into the stomach, and, finally, through 25 feet of nutrient- and water-extracting intestine that ends in, well, your exit.
People with glucose levels between normal and diabetic have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or insulin resistance. People with impaired glucose tolerance do not have diabetes, but are at high risk for progressing to diabetes. Each year, 1% to 5% of people whose test results show impaired glucose tolerance actually eventually develop diabetes. Weight loss and exercise may help people with impaired glucose tolerance return their glucose levels to normal. In addition, some physicians advocate the use of medications, such as metformin (Glucophage), to help prevent/delay the onset of overt diabetes.
Though not routinely used any longer, the oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is a gold standard for making the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. It is still commonly used for diagnosing gestational diabetes and in conditions of pre-diabetes, such as polycystic ovary syndrome. With an oral glucose tolerance test, the person fasts overnight (at least eight but not more than 16 hours). Then first, the fasting plasma glucose is tested. After this test, the person receives an oral dose (75 grams) of glucose. There are several methods employed by obstetricians to do this test, but the one described here is standard. Usually, the glucose is in a sweet-tasting liquid that the person drinks. Blood samples are taken at specific intervals to measure the blood glucose.
Pain has been shown to interfere with self-management activities, sleep, physical functioning, work, family relationships, mood, and quality of life. To make matters worse, pain is often invisible to others, so family members, coworkers, and health-care professionals often have no idea what a person in pain is going through. Many people feel that their physicians don’t understand and tell them they “just have to live with it.”
^ Sarwar N, Gao P, Seshasai SR, Gobin R, Kaptoge S, Di Angelantonio E, Ingelsson E, Lawlor DA, Selvin E, Stampfer M, Stehouwer CD, Lewington S, Pennells L, Thompson A, Sattar N, White IR, Ray KK, Danesh J (June 2010). "Diabetes mellitus, fasting blood glucose concentration, and risk of vascular disease: a collaborative meta-analysis of 102 prospective studies". Lancet. 375 (9733): 2215–22. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60484-9. PMC 2904878. PMID 20609967.
Type 2 diabetes, a form of diabetes mellitus, is likely one of the better-known chronic diseases in the world — and that's no surprise. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest in the United States alone, 30.3 million people, or 9.4 percent of the U.S. population, has diabetes, and the majority of these people have type 2. (1)
Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) resembles type 2 DM in several respects, involving a combination of relatively inadequate insulin secretion and responsiveness. It occurs in about 2–10% of all pregnancies and may improve or disappear after delivery. However, after pregnancy approximately 5–10% of women with GDM are found to have DM, most commonly type 2. GDM is fully treatable, but requires careful medical supervision throughout the pregnancy. Management may include dietary changes, blood glucose monitoring, and in some cases, insulin may be required.
Type 2 diabetes, which is often diagnosed when a person has an A1C of at least 7 on two separate occasions, can lead to potentially serious issues, like neuropathy, or nerve damage; vision problems; an increased risk of heart disease; and other diabetes complications. A person’s A1C is the two- to three-month average of his or her blood sugar levels.