One in 9 Chicagoans suffer from diabetes - Chicago Sun-Times

Thank you for using! This service has been made possible by all our customers. In order to provide a sustainable, best of the breed RSS to Email experience, we've chosen to keep this as a paid subscription service. If you are satisfied with your free trial, please sign-up today. Subscriptions without a plan would soon be removed. Thank you!
Story Image

Jeffrey Lisitza, 56, has lost 115 pounds and continues to diet and exercise to control his Type II diabetes. He knows the disease is a killer because it took the life of his father, Sol (inset). | Dom Najolia~Sun-Times

The Center For Disease Control estimates that 25.8 million U.S. children and adults have diabetes, about 8.3 percent of the population. Diagnosed cases compose 18.8 of that total, with undiagnosed cases accounting for 7 million.

There are two major types of Diabetes:

Type 1

◆ Compose about 5 percent of diabetes cases.

◆ Typically diagnosed in children, teenagers and young adults.

◆ Develops when the pancreas doesn't produce insulin because the immune system has destroyed the organ's beta cells, the only cells that make insulin.

◆ Might be caused by genetics, environmental factors or other reasons.

◆ People with Type I can't survive without regular administration of insulin via injection or a pumping device. Other treatment options include a healthy diet, exercise and reining in cholesterol and blood pressure.

◆ No known method of preventing Type 1 diabetes.

Type 2

◆ Responsible for 90-95 percent of all cases.

◆ Can develop in people at any age.

◆ Caused by insulin resistance, a condition brought on when liver cells, fat and muscle can't use insulin properly.

◆ Obesity, old age, family history of diabetes, and race and ethnicity are common risk factors. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, some Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are particularly at risk.

◆ Healthy eating, exercise and weight loss are usual treatments. Treatment can also include oral medicine or insulin.

◆ Can be prevented by frequent physical activity and a healthy diet.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Adeshina Emmanuel

Updated: September 17, 2011 2:27AM

Jeffrey Lisitza watched helplessly as diabetes ravaged his father's health.

First it took his legs.

Then it took his vision.

Finally — 10 years ago — it took his life.

Lisitza, of Arlington Heights, knew better than most the risks of obesity. But the 56-year-old's own weight ballooned to more than 350 pounds, and he too was diagnosed with Type II diabetes.

"I was tired all the time and I didn't want to do anything," he recalls. "I couldn't even chase my kids around the house, take them to the zoo, or go to a Fourth of July festival."

Lisitza has since lost 115 pounds and turned his life around, though the fingertips of what he calls his "steel hands" are still calloused black from years of pinprick blood sugar tests.

His case may sound extreme, but with more than 1 in 9 Chicagoans suffering from diabetes, chances are you know someone facing similar challenges.

A global diabetes epidemic now affects a "staggering" 366 million patients worldwide, causing death every seven seconds, the International Diabetes Federation warned last week. "The clock is ticking for the world's leaders," Jean Claude Mbanya, the group's president, said in a statement.

And in some Chicago neighborhoods, as many as 1 in 4 people may now have diabetes — many unwittingly, local advocates say.

Though global health leaders have for decades focused on battling infectious diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and new flu bugs, the UN General Assembly will next week hold its first summit on the chronic diseases that kill 9 out of 10 Americans: cancer, heart and lung disease, and diabetes. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls the chronic diseases, which have common risk factors and are often preventable, "a public health emergency in slow motion."

Diabetes — which renders sufferers' blood sugar levels too high, either because not enough insulin is produced or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced — has grown from 5.6 million diagnosed cases in 1981 in the United States to 19.7 million in 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If undiagnosed cases are included, that figure is estimated to have grown to 26 million by this year.

Because of a growing, aging population, increasingly widespread obesity and, in part, to African-Americans' and Latinos' higher risk of diabetes, the CDC expects the 1.1 million diabetics in metropolitan Chicago to have increased by 500,000 to 1.6 million by 2025.

The vast majority of diabetics suffer from Type II diabetes, which is often tied to obesity and is typically diagnosed later in life. But doctors are struggling to explain a similar rise in Type I diabetes, which is more often diagnosed in children and unrelated to weight. It is more commonly known as Juvenile Diabetes.

The disease can be managed with diet, exercise and medication including insulin, but chronically high blood sugar levels cause nerve damage, which can result in kidney disease, blindness and amputation.

Those leading the fight against diabetes say next week's U.N. meeting offers a key opportunity to focus minds and set meaningful targets.

Prof. Louis Philipson, who leads the University of Chicago's Kovler Diabetes Center, said governments around the world need to do more to teach people to exercise more and eat diets that are low in calories and high in protein and fiber.

And he said that the "mostly reactive, not predictive" nature of the health-care industry means there is a shortage of specialists ready to deal with the explosion of diabetes cases expected to hit Chicago in the coming years.

In neighborhoods such as North Lawndale or Humboldt Park, studies suggest as many as 1 in 4 residents may have diabetes, according to Jeanette Flom, the executive director of the Chicago branch of the American Diabetes Association.

"Major employers are coming to us, asking for advice, because this has become such a big risk for the health of their staff," Flom said. "It's a sensitive topic and maybe people don't want to discuss diabetes in the workplace, but it affects so many people in so many ways."

Though diabetes has become big business with pharmacies devoting an aisle to diabetics, diabetic candy and iPhone apps for tracking blood sugar, a cure remains elusive.

Treatments such as those pioneered at the University of Illinois' Chicago Diabetes Project have provided hope for some.

Mokena nurse Cynthia Beaumont, 45, is one of a handful of Type I diabetes patients to have benefited from an experimental procedure in which cells from an organ donor's pancreas are injected.

Beaumont, who was diagnosed with diabetes at age 2, had relied on an insulin pump and had to prick herself to test her blood sugar 10 to 12 times a day until she received the treatment last September. She's now able to exercise and do her job without fear of a dangerous lapse in concentration and declares her life "transformed."

"I can do the things I always wanted to do — take a bike ride with my family, run on the treadmill or just keep going all day without worrying," she said.

The Chicago Diabetes Project director, Dr. Jose Oberholzer, said he expects the transplants to remain the most promising way forward for the next decade.

He cautions that they are available only to a tiny proportion of Type 1 patients, but hopes to develop a treatment for Type II patients that does not require costly injections.

"Health insurance doesn't pay for this treatment yet," he said. "People are running sponsored marathons, writing grant proposals and fundraising to pay for this, and it shouldn't be that way.

"If there was proper funding, we could find a cure — it cannot be that difficult," he said.

"But prevention is even more important."

Contributing: AP

17 Sep, 2011

Manage subscription | Powered by

What's on Your Mind...

Powered by Blogger.