Type 2 diabetes curable? Maybe -- but only if you want to starve yourself to find out
There has been some discussion about whether Type 2 diabetes is curable. (There's no such discussion with Type 1, which afflicts the street artist featured in this week's cover story.) The common belief, supported by the American Diabetes Association and the Mayo Clinic, is that there is no cure for Type 2 diabetes, but it can be managed and even prevented.
Type 2, also known as adult onset diabetes, is linked to lifestyle factors like obesity, though family history also influences one's likelihood of getting the disease.
In June, a group of doctors at Newcastle University reported that using a strict 600-calorie a day diet, they were able to control Type 2 diabetes without medication in eleven patients -- admittedly a small sample. After eight weeks, seven remained symptom-free.
"While it has long been believed that someone with Type 2 diabetes will always have the disease, and that it will steadily get worse, we have shown that we can reverse the condition," said the head of the study in a press release.
While promising, the study is not an absolute answer. The patients consumed special nutrient shakes, non-starchy vegetables and water. That's it. Researchers also don't know whether this is a short-term or long-term solution. "However, this diet is not an easy fix and Diabetes UK strongly recommends that such a drastic diet should only be undertaken under medical supervision. Despite being a very small trial, we look forward to future results particularly to see whether the reversal would remain in the long term," stressed Diabetes UK director of research Dr. Iain Frame, Director of Research in the release.
Scientists have also found in patients with Type 2 that after gastric bypass surgery, their insulin levels went down.
However, there's a lot of discussion as to whether normal blood-sugar levels mean the diabetes is cured. The general wisdom is that Type 2 worsens the longer a patient has it. While in the early stages, it can be controlled by just a proper diet; later on, pills and potentially insulin shots are required.
In 2006, the American Diabetes Association estimated that Colorado lost $2.5 million due to healthcare costs and loss of productivity because of diabetes. Aside from the time it takes to manage their disease -- about thirty minutes a day -- complications include fatigue and an inability to feel limbs and fingers. Those problems are especially prevalent among diabetics without the means to properly treat it.
Tonight, Brian Bradley, the Type 1 diabetic behind the Kwiatkowski Press who's at the center of our cover story, is opening a show of prints focusing on his diabetes at Crash 45.