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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

Diabetes Cures and Diabetes Prevention   (July 4, 2007)

It’s downright irritating to have snake oil salesmen and con men continue to confuse Internet readers with claims of diabetes cures. It’s all over the place: today, Googling for the phrase “diabetes cures” found about 2,170,000 webpages, including some blatant nonsense:

  • Lots of websites have promoted a product called Diamaxol (formerly called Diabeticine), which “along with a healthy lifestyle, has been shown in clinical studies to be 99% effective for Type 2 and 64% effective for Type 1 at reversing the root cause of diabetes. Sure, as if there were a single “root cause” to be reversed! And how can a bunch of herbs (that's all they are hawking) reverse type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease in which pancreatic beta cells are destroyed?
  • And you can “Discover the Shocking Truth About A Cure for Diabetes Being Suppressed!” - but it turns out to be another pitch for Diamaxol.
  • Then there are the booksellers with claims such as “I cured my husband of diabetes -- that’s right cured-- with an unusual strategy.” I suspect that most of the folks who claim they were cured are actually in a remission, and if they resume their former overeating, or have another major stress on their health, or simply as a result of the aging process, they’ll probably see their diabetes return.
  • Even the big not-for-profits hype cures: JDRF asks you to “Join Us for the Walk to Cure Diabetes. JDRF's Walks are family-friendly, held at great locations, and feature plenty of entertainment, food, and fun. We invite you to become one of the 500,000 people at our 200 Walk sites nationwide this year who are making a difference in the lives of people with type 1 diabetes. You'll have a great time, get some exercise, and, most importantly, be a part of the cure!”
  • And the ADA has a cycling event with the word "Cure": “Since Tour de Cure's beginning in 1991, thousands of individual riders and teams have participated to support the Association's mission: to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. Now you can make a difference in the lives of the 20.8 million Americans suffering from diabetes by joining thousands of cyclists around the nation who are riding in Tour de Cure.”

Sorry, folks, but there is no cure for diabetes. And although both the JDRF and the ADA might argue with me, I think probably there won’t be. You simply can’t reverse the aging process of middle-aged adults with type 2 diabetes, nor reverse the beta-cell loss of type 1 diabetes.

But prevention of diabetes is another story.
  • Prevention of type 2 diabetes is within reach already: the DPP study has shown that people at high risk for type 2 diabetes can sharply lower their chances of getting the disease with meal planning and exercise. The medication metformin also reduces diabetes risk, though less dramatically.
  • And prevention of type 1 diabetes is undergoing scientific study by several pharmaceutical companies, using immunologic tricks to shut down the immune attack on the beta cells of the pancreas.
So I suspect that someday we’ll be able to prevent our kids or grandkids from getting diabetes, but those of us who already have the diagnosis of either type 1 or type 2 are stuck with it, and have to learn to live with it the best we can.
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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.

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