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Monday, October 4, 2010

Diabetes Rising Among Children

Type 1 diabetes can double in twenty years. It looks like it is rising at 3% each year. The question is why. This brings me to the book I want to share with you. This book tries hard to demystify this mysterious rise by investigating the scientific hypotheses. Interested? I thought you would.

Let us get to the statistical background first. Type 1 diabetes is now double the figure we had in the 1980s. Compared to 100 years ago, it is ten to twenty times more common. It is widely known and accepted that type 2 diabetes is on the increase as well but the increase in type 1 has not been given much attention.

Enter Dan Hurley who is an award-winning reporter who put together proof from studies that have been published and came out with DIABETES RISING: How A Rare Disease Became A Modern Pandemic, And What To Do About It. He mentioned the studies that documented the rise of type 1 diabetes

While researching for his book, he was shocked to find out that type 1 is rising as quickly as type 2. He thinks that this has not been given much media attention because it does not match the idea that it is a super-disease that is not common and is due to a genetic predisposition.

Genes of course has not changed so it must be something to do with the change in lifestyle or the environment. He sought the explanation with this and so the book looks at some scientific hypotheses that could shed the light on the mysterious increase. Here are the five leading ones:

1. The hypothesis on the cow’s milk exposure in the infant milk formula during the first six months of the baby’s life can inflict harm to the immune system.

2. The accelerator hypothesis claims that the fast increase in children’s height and weight has put the cells that produce insulin under stress and so has increased the propensity to develop type 1.

3. The hypothesis on hygiene claims that the lack of exposure to agents that cause disease that once were common leads autoimmune hypersensitivity which results in the damage to the beta cells that produce insulin.

4. The sunshine hypothesis as the name indicates claims that more time now spent indoors has reduced sunlight exposure and vitamin D is which is now linked to increased risk for type 1 diabetes.

5. The hypothesis on exposure persistent organic pollutants or POP increases the risk not only for type 2 diabetes but for type 1 as well.

There you have the five hypotheses. I have not made up my mind which of those can graduate into becoming theories. What do you think? One thing I am sure though. We have to increase our awareness to this and continue to work on getting them eliminated so that we can stop the rising statistics on type 1 diabetes.

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