Mary Tyler Moore’s death a reminder of the toll of diabetes
Mary Tyler Moore debuted on television in the 1950s, appearing in commercials that aired during a popular show. Her star continued to rise until Moore landed the eponymous sitcom that became a staple of 1970s pop culture.
But it was another event that cast her in a new, unfamiliar and lifelong role: a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes at age 33. Moore, who died Jan. 25 at age 80, did more than just fight her disease. She leveraged her star power to become an advocate for diabetes research.
Moore’s official cause of death, cardiopulmonary arrest, was released Jan. 30. Diabetes was listed as a contributing factor.
As a physician who directs a diabetes institute at an academic medical center, I see this moment as a teaching opportunity about her disease. I also hope to show how Moore used her celebrity for good in the fight against diabetes, which kills 69,000 people a year, more than the toll of HIV/AIDS and breast cancer combined.
An old problem, with new and growing numbers
The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes, in all forms, in the U.S. increased by 382 percent from 1988 to 2014.
There are two types, but both involve the build-up of sugar in the blood, which can damage blood vessels and organs and lead to death and disability.
Type 1 diabetes arises when the pancreas fails to produce insulin that allows the body to extract energy from food. Sugar builds up in the blood rather than going to cells, where it is used for energy. About 1.25 million people have this type of diabetes, and it is what Mary Tyler Moore suffered from.
Type 2 diabetes is much more common, with about 30 mi Continue reading