There are two major types of diabetes, called type 1 and type 2. Both are chronic conditions (incurable) but they both can be treated with insulin. Type 1 diabetes (also referred to as juvenile onset diabetes, is a disease where the pancreas undergoes an autoimmune attack by the body itself and becomes unable to make insulin.
Type 1 diabetes is believed to be genetically inherited and tends to occur in young, lean individuals, usually before 30 years of age. People with type 1 diabetes must rely on insulin medication for survival.
Type 2 diabetes (which is by far the most common) is a condition where patients can still produce insulin, but not enough for their body's needs. With type 2, the amount of beta cells that produce insulin go down while the level of blood sugars in the body goes up. People are not born with type 2 diabetes – it usually occurs due to lifestyle factors such as being overweight, having high blood pressure, improper diet, cigarette smoking and excessive drinking of alcohol.
How it Affects Black Men
Diabetes is one of the top 10 killers of black men and is a major issue in the black community primarily because of the obesity issue. Because many black men do not have a healthy diet, their bodies are a fertile breeding ground for diabetes. Unfortunately when black men have diabetes, they're also much more likely to develop one or more serious complications associated with the disease, including amputation, kidney failure, blindness, and cardiovascular disease. For example, African Americans are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to have a limb amputated than are others with diabetes.
Approximately 2.7 million or 11.4% of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes -- but at least one-third of them don't know it. The average African American born today has a 50% chance of developing type 2 diabetes in his or her lifetime.
Diabetes affects approximately 17 million people (about 8% of the population) in the United States. In addition, an estimated additional 12 million people in the United States have diabetes and don't even know it.
Diabetes is the third leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease and cancer.
Of all the patients with diabetes, only approximately 10% of them have type 1 diabetes, with the remaining 90% having type 2.
Type 2 diabetes is preventable. The basic key to preventing diabetes is adopting a healthier lifestyle which includes: maintaining a healthy weight (for your height and age); exercising; drinking lots of water; and staying away from sugary foods, sodas and juices.
If caught early the effects of type 2 diabetes can be reversed. It is therefore important to get routine (at least annual) checkups at the doctor.
For more information on the web about diabetes, we suggest WebMD (www.webmd.com). They have a very extensive section on diabetes, containing a wide range of articles and videos. If you prefer to read books, here is a good place to start.
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