Entries in Type 1 Diabetes (3)


Diabulimia: The Dangerous Way Diabetics Drop Pounds

Courtesy of Erin Williams(NEW YORK) -- At age 14, Erin Williams was tired of medicine.  Williams was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic at age 11, and after three years of enduring a never-ending regimen of insulin shots and strict diet restrictions, she was frustrated.

Embarrassed by her disease, she kept it a secret from everyone but her closest family and friends.  At birthday parties, she made up excuses about why she couldn't have soda or cake.  When a classmate saw her drinking juice boxes in the nurses office, she endured weeks of being called the "juice box thief" rather than just tell her classmates she had low blood sugar because of diabetes.

Eventually, Williams rebelled the only way she could, she decided not take her insulin.  She just didn't want to adhere to the strict diet and medical regimen even though it was vital to her health.

The next morning when Williams woke up, she felt fine.  Emboldened by her experiment, she continued to restrict her insulin.  

Without a regimented amount of insulin in her body to process glucose, Williams' body started to burn through fat and muscle.  She lost weight very quickly even as she ate all the same foods.  Classmates started commenting on her weight loss and remarked that she looked great.

After living with type 1 diabetes for three years, Williams was exhibiting the first signs of a disorder often called diabulimia.  The term refers to the dual diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and an eating disorder.

Many type 1 diabetics with eating disorders will not take their prescribed insulin so they can lose weight.  Deprived of insulin, the body cannot break down sugars from food to use as energy.  Instead, the body's cells break down fat already stored and try to flush out the excess sugar through the urine.

While it leads to weight loss, it can also lead to nerve damage, damaged eyesight, kidney damage and osteoporosis, among a host of other ailments.

A study from 2007 that followed diabetics who restricted their insulin over 11 years found their mortality risk was three times higher than those who did not restrict their insulin.

While anorexia or bulimia are familiar terms, diabulimia is little known, even though it can affect a significant portion of the type 1 diabetic population.  Studies and research into diabulimia are not comprehensive, but a 1994 study found that up to 30 percent of type 1 diabetic women will intentionally stop taking their insulin at some point in their lives to lose weight.

When Williams was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11, she became one of the approximately three million Americans to suffer from the autoimmune disorder in which the pancreas does not produce insulin.  According to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 30,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease every year.

Her diagnosis also meant that her chances of developing an eating disorder more than doubled.  A study from the University of Toronto found that adolescent girls with type 1 diabetes were 2.4 times more likely to suffer from an eating disorder than girls without diabetes.

Ann Goebel-Fabbri, a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, has worked with many type 1 diabetic patients suffering from eating disorders at the Joslin Diabetes Center.

She said that there isn't a clear reason why type 1 diabetics have an increased risk for having an eating disorder, but she suspects that part of the problem is the way diabetics have to focus on food intake, their carb level and calories.

"The treatment itself [means] paying close attention to food and time of eating," said Goebel-Fabbri.  "Oftentimes, that can mirror an eating disorder mindset."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Five Health Problems Linked to Height

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Height has been linked to a range of health problems, from Alzheimer's and heart disease to multiple cancers.  How stature stacks the odds of getting sick is unclear, but experts say the link between height and health offers new hope for understanding puzzling diseases.

Here are five common conditions linked to height:


A new study suggests taller women have heightened risk for ovarian cancer, a disease that kills nearly 15,000 American women each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  British researchers reviewed data from 47 studies involving more than 100,000 women.  For every 5-centimeter (2-inch) increase in height above the average 5 feet 3, the risk of ovarian cancer rose 7 percent, according to the study published Tuesday in the journal PLoS Medicine.

In July 2011, a study published in the Lancet Oncology found taller women had an increased risk of 10 different cancers, including breast and skin cancer.  And taller men have an increased risk of prostate cancer, according to a 2008 study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., killing 616,000 people per year, according to the CDC.  And unlike cancer, it seems to affect shorter people more than their taller counterparts.  A recent review of 52 studies involving more than three million men and women found shorter people have a 50 percent higher risk of having deadly heart disease than tall people.

"It would be interesting to explore the possibility that short stature is connected with the risk of [coronary heart disease] and [heart attack] through the effect of smaller coronary artery diameter, and that smaller coronary arteries may be occluded earlier in life under similar risk conditions," the authors wrote in their 2010 report published in the European Heart Journal.


Like heart disease, serious strokes are also more common among shorter people.  An Israeli study of more than 10,000 men, 364 of whom died from stroke, linked each 5-centimeter (2-inch) increase in height with a 13 percent increase in fatal stroke risk.  Men who were in the shortest quartile had a 54 percent higher risk of fatal stroke than men in the tallest quartile, according to the 2002 study published in the journal Stroke.

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia in older people, affecting 5.4 million Americans, according to the Alzheimer's Association.  The risk increases with age and a family history of Alzheimer's, highlighting the disease's genetic roots.  And according to a 2007 study, the risk is also higher for shorter people.

The study, which compared 239 Alzheimer's patients with 341 healthy controls, found men who were taller than 5 feet 10 inches had a 59 percent lower risk of developing the disease than men who were shorter than 5 feet 6 inches.  The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.


While type 2 diabetes is linked to weight, type 1 diabetes -- also called juvenile diabetes -- may be linked to height.

"Taller children generally seem to experience increased risk for development of diabetes mellitus type 1, except perhaps during infancy or early adolescence," according to a 2002 study published in the journal Pediatrics.

The cause of type 1 diabetes is unknown, but it's thought result from an autoimmune attack on the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.  Although it can occur at any age, it's usually diagnosed in children, teens or young adults.´╗┐

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Artificial Pancreas Trials Reduce Low Blood Sugar Risks

Jeffrey Hamilton/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE, England) -- While investigating the effectiveness of an artificial pancreas for the management of type 1 diabetes, British researchers observed an improvement in blood sugar control and found that they could reduce the risk of dangerously low blood sugar levels while patients sleep.

The study's lead author, Roman Hovorka, a principal research associate at the University of Cambridge in the UK, and his colleagues are one of several teams trying to develop a successful artificial pancreas, known as a closed loop system.

The artificial organ essentially combines existing technology intended to manage diabetes, such as insulin pumps and glucose monitors, with a computer algorithm that instructs the devices to act accordingly when blood sugar levels rise or fall.

Researchers working to develop such a system hope to produce an artificial pancreas that functions very similarly to a real pancreas, with the ability to release insulin in response to food or stress.

The study's findings were published online in the British Journal of Medicine.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

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