Education & lifestyle choices aid in prevention
In 1921, a team of scientists at the University of Toronto was on the cusp of one of the world’s great medical breakthroughs. For thousands of years, people who developed diabetes had faced certain death, suffering extreme thirst and ravenous appetites as their bodies wasted away — unable to process the food they ate into the glucose necessary to sustain cells.
Through a hot summer, the scientists experimented on dogs, taking pancreatic fluid from healthy animals and injecting the extract into others with diabetes. By early 1922, the researchers had purified and processed bovine pancreatic fluid into an injectable form and successfully treated a 14-year-old diabetic boy who had been near death. Within months, doctors were awakening dying children from diabetic comas as tearful parents watched and rejoiced. The Toronto lead scientists, Frederick G. Banting and John MacLeod, received the 1923 Nobel Prize for Medicine. Millions of lives have been saved by their discovery of insulin.
Still, insulin is a treatment for diabetes, not a cure. The incidence of diabetes continues to climb to epidemic levels in the United States and around the world, fueled by rising obesity and increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Health officials are hammering home the old adage about “an ounce of prevention.” They stress that some basic building blocks of healthy living can stave off Type 2 diabetes, the form of the disease that is linked to obesity and sedentary living and that affects 90 to 95 percent of diabetics. For those who have already been diagnosed with diabetes, those same health choices are important to managing it, health experts say.
Learn more about the disease that kills more people each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined in the current issue of New Jersey Countryside Magazine, available now at bookstores, on newsstands and by subscription. Click here to get one free bonus issue and save more than 80% on a subscription.