On World Diabetes Day, Joslin President warns of explosion in diabetes and its complications

BOSTON -- On Monday, Nov. 14 -- World Diabetes Day -- on the heels of new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which show an alarming 14 percent increase in the number of people with diabetes in the U.S. in the past two years alone, Joslin Diabetes Center President C. Ronald Kahn, M.D., warns of a coming "explosion" in diabetes and its complications unless action is taken to curb the mushrooming incidence of type 2 diabetes. "With the staggering increase of type 2 diabetes in younger people around the globe, my greatest nightmare is that in about 15 or 20 years, we will face an epidemic of diabetes and its complications that will be a huge burden for mankind, governments and the healthcare system," he says. Already diabetes-related healthcare costs and lost productivity cost the U.S. an estimated $132 billion annually.

The World Health Organization reports that approximately 150 million people worldwide have diabetes, and the number is projected to double by the year 2025. Traditionally considered a disease of middle-aged and older adults, type 2 diabetes and the related metabolic syndrome are occurring at alarming rates in younger people. If untreated or poorly treated, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney disease, stroke, nerve damage and circulation problems that can result in limb amputations.

"When type 2 diabetes strikes an older adult, it is serious, but it still may take 10-20 years before the individual will develop the major long-term complications like heart disease, stroke and blindness. But now that more people in their 30s, 20s and even teens are getting the disease, we will see these complications in younger and younger people," Kahn says. "I fear the ability of healthcare systems throughout the world to care for these people will be overwhelmed if we are not successful in curbing this rising tide of disease. Clearly we need to find ways to modify lifestyles, make earlier diagnosis and improve management


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