Summary: A brief review of the top reports in 2017 on prediabetes and type 2 diabetes treatments, including new ones and those in the pipeline. [This article first appeared on the LongevityFacts.com website. Author: Brady Hartman.]
A paper published in the Lancet shocked the public last year when they reported that 40% of Americans walking around today would develop type 2 diabetes. While type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of premature death, the World Health Organization (WHO) upset even more people when they announced that prediabetes – the precursor state to diabetes – kills far more people.
Here’s a look back at the reports in 2017 on the ways to prevent type 2 diabetes and prediabetes and the promising treatments in the pipeline for these two forms of diabetes.
40% Of US Will Develop Type 2 Diabetes.
The Lancet reported that 40% of Americans walking around today will develop type 2 diabetes. The same report added that people with diabetes are living longer due to improved management of the disease.
Type 2 diabetes is one of the most expensive of health conditions. In fact, type 2 diabetes consumes over a quarter of medical spending in the US or just over 14% of total US healthcare spending. In 2014, US patients, taxpayers, and insurers spent $112 billion on treating 16.8 million acute cases of the type 2 diabetes. Spending on diabetes in 1962 – a half-century earlier – was just $1 billion in 2014 dollars. The continuing declines in heart disease and cancer will probably soon elevate diabetes into one of the top three causes of illness and disability.
Preventing, Detecting and Treating Prediabetes
More than one in three American adults has prediabetes, and 90% of them don’t know it as the disease remains mostly undetected. Because these people aren’t getting treatment, the condition kills far more people than its big sister, diabetes.
According to a 2016 WHO report, prediabetes – a condition which precedes diabetes – kills 50% more people than diabetes. The WHO estimated that in 2012, diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths worldwide, and high blood sugar created an additional 2.2 million deaths.
Before getting full-blown diabetes, many people develop prediabetes, a condition in which “blood glucose is abnormally high, but not high enough to be considered diabetes,” says the World Health Organization (WHO). Moreover, without treatment, prediabetics are at much higher risk of developing full-blown diabetes.
Prediabetes comes with most of the same types of health risks as diabetes, such as stroke and heart disease and the 2.2 million deaths reported by the WHO were the result of complications such as heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. When left untreated, a condition of high blood sugar causes far more deaths says the WHO, because the condition is largely undetected.
Proper management of prediabetes treatment helps to prevent type 2 diabetes and adds years to one’s life. The linked article provides a free online tool to assess your risk.
Metformin to Prevent Prediabetes
Metformin received particular interest as studies show the drug helps to prevent diabetes in prediabetics.
Prediabetes treatment options include an inexpensive tablet called metformin and lifestyle changes. Researchers show that lifestyle changes are the most effective solution and include eating healthy food, losing and staying at a healthy weight, and being physically active. Lifestyle changes are the best way to bring blood glucose levels back into the normal range.
For those who fail at lifestyle changes, physicians sometimes prescribe a medication called metformin. The drug metformin is inferior to lifestyle changes as far as prediabetes treatment goes. However, metformin is better than no treatment at all.
Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
Research shows that some prevention strategies are more successful than others in preventing type 2 diabetes.
Some of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes are beyond one’s control, including genetics and growing older. Thankfully, many risk factors are within one’s control, including being overweight or obese, and an improper diet.
People can ward off the disease with a healthy diet and exercise. Medications also work but are less effective. One article shows that drinking coffee might help.
Article: Steps to prevent type 2 diabetes.
Diet and Weight Loss to Prevent Diabetes
The conditions of diabetes and prediabetes are associated with being overweight or obese, and Prediabetics can avoid becoming diabetics through exercise and proper diet. However, obesity, the most significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes, is increasing rapidly as a global epidemic that threatens to offset many medical advances to increase longevity.
What will the future bring? The prevalence of type 2 diabetes will continue to increase until the diabesity epidemic is brought under control. And instead of attacking diabetes, head-on doctors are working on ways to reduce the obesity that fuels diabetes. In fact, researchers have identified a key enzyme that sabotages weight loss when we are dieting.
A report at the beginning of the year showed that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps ward off chronic diseases and increases lifespan. The end of the year saw a report in which researchers found the healthiest options when comparing the Atkins, Rosedale, Paleo, Mediterranean and DASH Diet plans.
Managing the Complications of Diabetes
Fortunately, doctors have new technology for monitoring blood sugar levels and the administration of insulin, which can ameliorate the rampant complications of type 2 diabetes which includes heart and kidney disease, blindness, and peripheral vascular disease.
Proper management of type 2 diabetes adds years to one’s life. The linked article provides a free online tool to assess your risk.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetics received good news in 2017, as the replacement of damaged pancreases with stem cell-derived islet cells may restore normal glucose regulation in some diabetics. One company is even working on a novel pancreas in a box.
Diabetes Drugs Holds Promise for Alzheimer’s Disease
Researchers often refer to Alzheimer’s disease as “type 3 diabetes.”
Diabetes is a significant risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, and researchers have implicated diabetes in the progression of the debilitating condition. Scientists have linked impaired insulin to cerebral degenerative processes in Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes. Researchers have also observed insulin desensitization in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Because insulin is a growth factor with neuroprotective properties, the desensitization could play a role in the development of neurodegenerative disorders.
Using a novel treatment based on type 2 diabetes drugs, researchers at Lancaster University discovered a promising Alzheimer’s treatment in 2017. The researchers announced that the treatment that ‘significantly reversed memory loss’ in mice with Alzheimer’s disease.
New Diabetes Treatments and Those in the Pipeline
The end of 2017 showed promise as pharmaceutical firms released new diabetes treatments and are working on more promising ones, such as a new therapy that attacks the root cause of type 2 diabetes.
- Link: Breakthroughs in type 1 and type 2 diabetes treatments.
- Link: Diabetes-treating SGLT2 inhibitors proclaimed among top advances of 2017.
More of the Best of 2017
- Link: Review of lifespan extension discoveries reported in 2017.
- Link: Top 8 top videos on the future of medicine reported in 2017.
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Cover photo: Getty Images / Maya23K.
Diagnosis, Treatment, and Advice: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and is not a substitute for qualified, professional medical advice. The information and opinions provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Experimental therapies carry a much higher risk than FDA-approved ones. Consult a licensed and qualified physician for the diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Call 911, or an equivalent emergency hotline number, for all medical emergencies. As well, consult a licensed, qualified physician before changing your diet, supplement or exercise programs. Photos, Endorsements, & External Links: This article is not intended to endorse organizations, companies, or their products. Links to external websites, mention or depiction of company names or brands, are intended for illustration only and do not constitute endorsements.