World Diabetes Day: Two types, one global problem
Today is World Diabetes Day and, for 2017, the International Diabetes Federation has declared the theme to be: Women and diabetes – our right to a healthy future. Diabetes is a global epidemic that shows no signs of abating and, according to the IDF, more than 199 million women are living with the disease; that figure is expected to climb to 313 million by the year 2040. A decade before that, the World Health Organisation believes that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death – yet the vast majority of cases are entirely avoidable.
Intrinsically linked with obesity, type 2 diabetes is by far the most common form, with just as many men affected as women. So what is it and what can be done to prevent it? Diabetes is when the pancreas produces insufficient levels of insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar, or glucose), or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it does produce. This, in turn, usually leads to a condition called hyperglycaemia, commonly known as raised blood sugar that, if left untreated, causes serious damage to the central nervous system and blood vessels. As a result, sufferers can go blind, need to have limbs amputated or end up having fatal heart attacks.
WHO records show that 35.4 million people suffer from diabetes in the Middle East and Africa alone, with the majority of sufferers unaware that the condition can gradually rob them of their sight, due to diabetic retinopathy – a condition where high blood sugar levels cause damage to the retina. So along with balancing their insulin levels, diabetics would do well to have Continue reading