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article imageOprah Expert: Diabetes fastest growing disease in history Special

By Carol Forsloff     Feb 4, 2010 in Health
Think diabetes won't affect you? Think again. The likelihood of someone getting diabetes is growing fast. It is poised to bankrupt the health care system, according to a "wake-up call" on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Here are facts everyone needs to know.
Oprah Winfrey had a program on diabetes Thursday, with Dr. Oz, a heart surgeon, as guest. Oz and other experts gave important warnings and essential details about what they underline as a killer disease that can be reversed.
Diabetes is the leading cause of death in the United States when the complications are counted. It kills 100 people daily in the African American community. 80 million people in the United States have the disease or or on the verge of getting it. 60 million are prediabetic. It will bankrupt the health care system in America if it continues to grow at the same rate it has. Presently $174 billion annually is spent on the disease, an amount that is expected to double in a few years. There are 86,000 amputations annually.
Dr. Oz explained the side affects of diabetes and interviewed a woman named Lorine, to give diabetes a face. She lay in a hospital bed suffering from kidney disease, on dialysis, and showed amputations on her legs and scars on her body. She wept as she agreed with Oz: people need to be serious about diabetes.
There are certain myths about diabetes Oz dispelled during the program with his expanded explanations about the disease. Oz explained the brain needs carbohydrates, but when too much sugar gets stored in the body, scar tissue can damage the body's organs. Too much sugar is dangerous. Diabetes isn't just "a little bit of sugar." Ox declared, sugar is like crack cocaine and can be addictive. For diabetics, the more it's consumed, the more addictive it becomes. The average American consumes 40 pounds every single year.
These are the classic warnings related by Oz that are also on a number of websites like the American Diabetes Association that discuss the disease
* frequent thirst
* frequent urination
* non-healing infections
* tingling of the toes
* blurred vision
Risks for diabetes, according to Oprah's medical expert Dr. Oz and other expert sources include these:
* belly fat
* a sedentary lifestyle
* family history
* smoking
Oz went on to say a woman of average height at 150 pounds is at risk. Furthermore an individual's waist size should equal no more than half their height.
Oprah had a number of experts on her Thursday show to reinforce the message about the epidemic of diabetes. A diet expert, Ian Smith, was shown as he made a foray to an African American church to warn a group of women about the dangers of diabetes and to elicit promises from them to change their lifestyle and work on a programa of prevention to reverse the diabetic process. He and Bob Greene, author of a program at, underline the fact that diabetes is a controllable illness, and folks who are at risk or who have it need to get serious about a program to treat it. They warn: don't run away; embrace it.
African Americans are said to be most at risk, according to the experts on the program today, and twice as likely to die because they are ordinarily diagnosed in the later stages of the disease. The experts assert: why wait until it's a crisis. They explain the reason many people don't take action is because diabetes takes years for complications to develop, but once they have, they can't be reversed.
After the show, Digital Journal called Pearl Payne, a member of the African American community of Natchitoches, Louisiana to find out if Pearl had watched the show and what might be her reaction. Pearl, a woman of more than 90 years, is in relatively good health and doesn't have diabetes. But many of her friends do, including almost half of an organization she belongs to called the Women of Faith and many people in her church. One of these women, Grace Baptiste, died just weeks ago, following two leg amputations. She had Type 2 diabetes since the 1980's.
"Did you watch the show?" Digital Journal asked. Pearl Payne responded she had and said, "I am so glad they offered all that information. It has to be shared with others. It is very important. So many people have it, especially in the African community. Lots of people in the African American community aren't doing the right thing to prevent the disease, and this information was very important"
Miss Payne went on to say how awful it is when diabetes strikes a friend or a member of one's family, as she has had a number of people close to her get diabetes and many of them die. She reflected on the life of Grace Baptiste as an example of the devastation that can be caused by the disease. "Grace had diabetes and didn't complain much. But she was often sick with heart trouble. She was always thinking of others. Diabetes is a terrible thing." Grace, she explained, would sometimes become so tired because of her failing heart she had trouble walking very far or doing things she loved.
"I am eager to help get the message out about diabetes. People have to listen. It's a big problem. I don't have it, but I understand how awful it is, having lost people I loved." She said she was glad the program discussed how people should eat because "lots of people in the community (African American) eat the wrong things.
"I thank God they had the program about it," she concluded. "Something should be done to save lives."
Oprah announced a gift for everyone that Walgren's Pharmacy will be providing free glucose screening across the United States on Friday from 11 - 7 p.m. It was her way of saying, that people like Pearl Payne understand from losing so many friends in her community of Natchitoches, Louisiana, the disease of diabetes is a serious one, and an epidemic that has to be stopped.
More about Diabetes, Oprah Winfrey, Epidemic, Symptoms risks diabetes
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