Advocate editorial board opinion: Seriousness of disease should be promoted

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Nov. 8, 2011 at 5:08 a.m.

November is National Diabetes Month. Although we have Thanksgiving on our minds - turkey and all the dressings - we should mark this month as a yearly reminder to get checked for this deadly disease.

And Nov. 14 is World Diabetes Day - named so to commemorate Frederick Banting and Charles Best for the discovery of insulin.

Why should we get checked? We all hear about heart attacks, heart disease, kidney disease, strokes, blindness, limb amputations and the like. Diabetes frequently is the root cause of these maladies; hence, we think diabetes as a killer is largely underreported.

Another scary statistic is that diabetes is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. We wonder if the disease is ranked too low.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 8 percent of the nation's total population has diabetes. Of that overall percentage, Hispanics and blacks have the greatest numbers of cases reported.

The CDC says the reasons for the disproportionate amounts among the ethnic groups is "differences in the access to quality care, social and cultural factors and the genetic makeup."

But it is clear that diabetes affects everyone, regardless of age, gender, race or income. And that is the importance of being aware of the disease, and making sure you manage it correctly or don't get it.

Good news, the CDC says, "We can halt the progress of this deadly disease. About 35 percent of the U.S. adult population has prediabetes, which means they are at risk in developing Type 2 diabetes. But Type 2 is preventable.

"Engaging in exercise and losing just 5 percent of weight can reduce the risk of developing diabetes or heart attack risk by 58 percent," wrote Dr. Thomas Diaz, medical director for UnitedHealthcare.

"Keeping diabetes at bay largely depends on the decisions we make every day - in our community, in the kitchen, in the street, at the office and restaurants," Diaz said.

So with being aware of this disease, we can fight it individually and together. And the fight against it continues across the world.

Right here in Victoria, we have John Griffin, who is an attorney with the Victoria law firm of Marek, Griffin and Knaupp. Griffin is the chairman of the National Board of Directors of the American Diabetes Association. He assumed his chairmanship Jan. 1.

Here's what Griffin said: "I am restless and agitating for action," he said. "My goal this year is to be able to say we made a difference. I hope to curb the scourge of diabetes in our society. And I'm confident we will succeed in this."

We all can help defeat this terrible disease. Awareness is the first defense against diabetes.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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