Saturday, June 16, 2018
Health

Letter: It is time to take diabetes seriously

Why no 3-day walk for diabetes | Nov. 2

Diabetes needs to be taken seriously

Thank you for recognizing the need for better awareness of diabetes. It's been nearly two years since you helped me do a piece celebrating my big 30 — 30 years past my life expectancy, and I'm still here and still refereeing high school soccer. (To see the writer's column, go to Links in today Times at tampabay.com.)

Unfortunately, most of the media pretty much continues ignoring this very serious and deadly disease most people think is just a sweet little inconvenience. It's NOT. In fact, both Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes have been designated as epidemic in the U.S. for decades, but you wouldn't know it by what's portrayed in the media. Why?

I suspect it's because the major diabetes organizations have sought to give victims hope rather than focusing on the seriousness of this deadly disease and that doesn't create the same type of awareness and dread as bald heads and crippled children. You see us walking around, seemingly healthy, but you don't see us lying on the floor, unconscious with paramedics huddling over us trying to revive us. You don't realize that the person you see in a wheelchair without legs was put there by diabetes, not a car accident or war, but over 50 percent of lost limbs are due to diabetes.

Neither do you see us with tubes in our arms undergoing painful dialysis nor realize the person using a white cane to get around was blinded by diabetes. 

Perhaps part of the problem lies in the fact that most diabetics consider the disease as merely an inconvenience — until the complications set in. Using reported causes of death on death certificates, diabetes only ranks as the seventh leading cause of death by disease. Yet it's widely understood in medical circles that the complications of diabetes — such as heart disease and stroke — are usually listed as the cause of death, rather than diabetes itself.

The National Institutes of Health, in 2000, estimated that diabetes actually caused the deaths of 450,000 Americans. President Bush had that estimate taken down after he virtually canceled embryonic stem cell research that more than 30 American Nobel Prize winning scientists predicted would lead to cures for diabetes and dozens of other deadly diseases within 10 years.

The 10 years were up 3 years ago. Interrupting this research didn't save any babies. The unused blastocysts were just trashed instead of promulgating life-saving research. Since 2010, it's likely that over 1 million Americans died from lack of a cure for a number of deadly diseases, including diabetes, because these so-called right-to-life groups decided their leaders' directives were more important than Christ's clear directive to go out and heal the sick.

BILL HAMMOND, Largo

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