6 Myths About Diabetes

Cynthia Ross Cravit | November 2nd, 2016

Here, six commonly held misconceptions about the disease.

According to the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF), more than 425 million people worldwide have diabetes, and by 2040 more than 640 million people could be affected by the disease.

Diabetes also exacts a huge economic burden: hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on complications of diabetes, many of which could have been prevented with proven, low-cost treatments.

Despite its potentially devastating effects, many people aren’t fully informed about the dangers of diabetes, nor of the proven ways to prevent and treat it. In fact, experts say that one in two adults with diabetes is undiagnosed.

Here, six commonly held misconceptions about the disease.

MYTH: Diabetes is not a killer disease.

FACT: Diabetes is actually responsible for some 5 million deaths in 2015 — which means that every 6 seconds a person dies from diabetes-related causes.  It is also a contributing factor to deaths from heart disease and stroke.

MYTH: Diabetes only affects rich countries.

FACT: Diabetes is becoming increasingly common and affects all populations, regardless of income. Currently, more than 75 per cent of people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries.

Next: More myths about diabetes…

diabetesMYTH: Diabetes only affects old people.

FACT: In reality, diabetes affects all age groups. And, due largely to increasing obesity rates, more children are now being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.

MYTH: Diabetes predominantly affects men.

FACT: Cases of diabetes are rising in both men and women. It is also increasing dramatically among youth and indigenous populations.

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MYTH: Diabetes cannot be prevented.

FACT: While it is true that type-1 diabetes is not preventable, evidence shows that healthy lifestyle habits, such as a maintaining a healthy weight and exercising moderately, can go a long way to help prevent type 2 diabetes. (For more on stopping diabetes before it starts, see Put diabetes on hold.)

MYTH: Diabetes prevention is too expensive.

FACT: Many inexpensive and cost-effective interventions exist. Proven strategies for improving the living environment, changing diet and increasing physical activity can reverse the pandemic. (See how smart food choices can help prevent diabetes.)

NEXT: DIABETES – AN OVERVIEW

Diabetes: An Overview

Type-1 diabetes, usually diagnosed in children and adolescents, is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin. Most people with diabetes — about 90 per cent — have type-2 diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not effectively use the insulin that is produced. This form of diabetes usually develops in adulthood, although increasing numbers of children in high-risk populations are being diagnosed.

If left untreated or improperly managed, diabetes can result in a number of complications, including:

-Heart disease

-Kidney disease

-Eye disease

-Problems with erection (impotence)

-Nerve damage

Doctors say that people with diabetes can expect to live vital and independent lives if they’re committed to treating and managing their condition. This can include medication as well as healthy lifestyle choices such as regular physical activity, weight and stress management and maintaining good nutrition.

Sources: International Diabetes Federation; World Health Organization; Canadian Diabetes Association.