August 21, 2014 | by Darrin Joy
The burgeoning type 2 diabetes epidemic casts a pall over the health of America’s public. New research now shows the looming threat is getting worse. Much worse.
A diabetes trends study published earlier this month in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology by researchers at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes for the average 20-year-old man has doubled since the late 1980s from 20 percent to 40 percent. For women, the diabetes risk has risen from 27 percent to 39 percent.
Hispanics and black women face an even steeper threat, with half destined to develop the disease in their lifetimes.
Diabetes leads to life-threatening complications such as nerve damage, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease, as well as other chronic, debilitating illnesses. It requires lifelong vigilance — including monitoring of blood sugar levels through periodic blood samples — and regular medical care to manage properly.
The economic toll is immense, as well. According to the American Diabetes Association, the disease already costs the U.S. about $250 billion each year. The increased incidence of diabetes promises to stress our health care system even further than it already has in the years to come.
City of Hope has invested significantly in finding new treatments for diabetes and to better understand and combat the disease and its complications. Its scientists are exploring everything from the changes to our epigenomes caused by the disease to potential vaccine approaches that may prevent diabetes from arising in the first place. Further, City of Hope recently committed $30 million to boost its program by recruiting top scientists in the field.
The CDC study provides compelling evidence for enhancing the diabetes program. Add to that the growing connection between metabolic diseases like diabetes and cancer, as well as other illnesses, and the need for increased focus on diabetes becomes palpable.
“The exorbitant growth in diabetes incidence makes a clear argument for expanding research in the field not just here at City of Hope but nationally, if not globally,” said Rama Natarajan, Ph.D., professor and director of the Division of Molecular Diabetes Research and the National Business Products Industry Professor in Diabetes Research. “We need to get the upper hand on this disease and its debilitating complications, or the cost may become too much to bear.”
Learn more about diabetes research at City of Hope, including the connection between cancer and diabetes.