Where is the cure?
Last week there was a news article about a recent finding scientists had made, which could in future affect the course of Type 1 diabetes. If you recall, Type 1 diabetes is a disease where the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas are destroyed and, as a result, the individual no longer has any insulin to take care of blood sugars in his/her body. This recent discovery, made in test mice, showed that they could make more of the cells needed to make insulin. This is of course a long way off from humans, who will not even be tested for another several years from now.
While exciting, especially in regard to treatment of Type 1 Diabetes, which remains quite challenging, I take care to view these news breaks with caution. Many patients of mine come in every week asking about new developments in the treatment of diabetes. It is especially important in the lives of my patients with Type 1 diabetes, given that they are committed to life-long insulin administration. With this in mind, I wanted to make a few points this week:
First, there is no publicly available cure for Type 1 diabetes as yet, outside of either a transplant with a whole pancreas gland or a pancreas cell transplant. By CURE I mean that the disease is truly gone, and no medication is needed to control blood sugars. There is a device known as the “artificial pancreas,â which has been made in various formats, all generally involving a device containing insulin, which is then implanted into the body. It has been tried on research basis, but is NOT available for general public use.
- Second, going along with the first point, please be VERY AWARE AND SKEPTICAL whenever you read about cures for Type 1 diabetes. There are all sorts of gimmicks and cheats on the Internet and the street, all willing to take your money and run in return for giving you hope of cure. There are diets claiming to cure Type 1 diabetes. They DO NOT. Some types of dietary habits can keep blood sugars lower than if you ate other types of food, but in Type 1 diabetes there needs to be a supply of insulin from somewhere. Completely stopping all insulin to switch to a diet that claims to CURE Type 1 diabetes will truly endanger your life.
- Third, there are cures for Type 2 diabetes, which is a very different disease in many ways from Type 1 diabetes. Gastric bypass surgery (known commonly as “stomach staplingâ) is medically accepted as a treatment that can cure Type 2 diabetes. Weight loss by any means can cure Type 2 diabetes. It does not work for everyone, as genetic factors play a big role-some people will develop diabetes more related to their genes than their being overweight only, so losing weight may not cure the disease, but instead make it easier to manage with minimal medication.
And lastly, in regard to Type 2 diabetes: prevention is best. PREVENTION!!!! If you have a strong family history of diabetes, are overweight/obese, had diabetes when pregnant or have ever had a doctor/nurse tell you your sugar was “a little bit high,â pay attention because you are at high risk for developing diabetes in future. It is easier to prevent it than to cure it; so do what you can to stay healthy and kept it at bay.
Until next week, stay safe and healthy Vincies!
Anita Ramsetty, MD [email protected]
Medical Director Endocrine Care Group