In the last few days there has been something akin to panic in the Diabetes 2 community. A study by the National Institute of Health called ACCORD was meant to prove that if people diagnosed with Diabetes 2 were given drugs for high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high lipids, they would be healthier. The opposite turned out to be true. Fifty-some more people died in the group with the “best” (lowest) scores for these factors. YIKES!
None of the subjects were controlling their “Diabetes 2” with diet and exercise. They were on American Diabetes Association diets which despise low-carb strategies that depend on high meat and fat and pitch processed foods for diabetics.
In this last year or so, reading a lot of blogs by and about diabetics, I have formed the strong opinion that Diabetes 2 is NOT diabetes at all, but only framed that way because it is usually discovered through blood glucose tests given with the intention of detecting diabetes. THEN they find out you have high blood pressure and a high lipid count, which somehow leads them to the assumption that the low blood glucose has caused the other problems. There is a huge industry based on the treatment of diabetes and providing special foods and things like special shoes for feet in trouble. Because high glucose is countered by insulin, the idea has been to administer more insulin and more insulin -- without ever testing to see what levels of insulin there are in the blood, existing right alongside the high glucose.
Few people have tried to look at all this from a deeper, cell-level, metabolic approach. The pharma people like traveling down the tracks they’ve already established: more insulin, different kinds of insulin, new delivery systems for insulin -- though some had begun to protest that insulin, esp. at high blood levels, is damaging to organs. When pharma got off their insulin obsession, they went to lipid obsession: first cholesterol and then trans-fat. The magic bullet was supposed to be statins. The more the better, until people in some of the statin trials died. No one wants to talk about an earlier obsession with estrogen -- I had to fight hard to prevent doctors from putting me on estrogen and at one period I DID take estrogen with not-very-nice results. Some of the side effects of these drugs are mood and thought-altering, so naturally anti-depressants, etc., are also prescribed.
“17 million Americans have diagnosed diabetes and more than 90% of them have type 2 diabetes.” The doctors do what they are supposed to do for diabetes, it doesn’t work, the doctors ascribe it to failure to stay on diets and take meds (which they call “lifestyle changes”) and get mad at their patients -- shutting them out of discussion. Doctors these days must hew to the prescriptions of the insurance companies, the state, and whatever institutions employ them -- few have independent offices. Mostly they depend upon prescriptions: get a diagnosis, run your finger down and across to the proper med, and then the only concern is titrating the dose. Insulin levels, vitamin D levels, or any other variables not on the list are not addressed.
Meanwhile people have begun experimenting on themselves and discussing with friends. Some researchers have begun to strongly suspect that Diabetes 2 should be called “metabolic dysfunction” and are labeling their work that way, so that Googling the latter might get you better information than “Diabetes 2.” These researchers find a high correlation between metabolic dysfunction and blood levels of pthalates, dioxin, and other organophosphates used in manufacturing and agriculture. One study found this correlation in sea turtles, which never come to land except to lay eggs. Fewer than ten per cent of the creatures on this planet have undetectable levels of these chemicals. They are in the breast milk of Inuit women.
While global warming is attracting a lot of attention, our constant molecular meddling is seeding all living creatures with subtle poisons that derange the delicate balances that control our inner workings. The Vietnam vets and Vietnamese peasants who were exposed to Agent Orange found this out in very unpleasant ways. The rest of us will soon learn a lot more. In regard to Diabetes 2/Metabolic Dysfunction, we are about where AIDS was a couple of decades ago. But you can’t evade this by using a condom. This is in the water, the air, our bottles and dishes, our furniture and carpets, our food, and our pills. The Chinese contaminations of food and paint are only exaggerations of what is true everywhere.
So what can we do? How much of this constant warning and doom-saying can we stand without running screaming over the horizon? Not much, if you ask me, unless there is a redirection of funding towards positive ends: first, to understand the molecular interference in our blood and cells, and second, to greatly diminish the amounts of these substances in the world. We DID save the raptors, remember? We DID bring the robins back after a silent spring or two.
If we leave the problem as it is, simply wailing and wringing our hands, it will solve itself by diminishing the population. Eventually, there will be only the tough and adaptive left to continue with what we call “civilization.”
At the moment there is a movement -- evidently driven by insurance and government bureaucracy -- to discover who costs the most over a lifetime. The assumption had been that fat people are more expensive in terms of health care and pressure on welfare, emergency rooms, and nursing care. The impulse was to just get rid of fat people -- put them in some kind of concentration camp where they would be FORCED to lose weight. But now another reversal research study reveals it is THIN people who live on and on and on in nursing homes, demented but vigorous. So maybe there will be a movement towards force-feeding them at MacDonalds. Underlying this is the hope that one group (one’s own) will be genetically privileged for survival and that others can defined in some mathematical and objective way as “unthriving” meaning “unworthy.” Then you can at the least keep your children from marrying them and at the most perhaps shut them out of society altogether so they’ll just disappear. What if it turns out that only hunchbacks or blind people can live in this chemical soup we’ve created?
In the meantime, all these social and psychological forces aside, perhaps each of us had better keep track of the best evidence we can find and make our own decisions about our strategies. Doctors can just get used to it.