A five-year-old boy whose chronic diabetes meant he had never spoken said his first words just days after starting a ‘miracle’ treatment. Jack Neighbour suffered from health complications related to neonatal diabetes and it meant he could only communicate with his family through picture cards. But just six weeks after a genetic test by a team at the University of Exeter he switched from insulin injections to tablets. While the sensational headlines here is certainly uplifting, the ‘miracle’ treatment here is probably no more than the common oral diabetic agents, likely sulphonyureas here, that are already widely used for many diabetics for a long time.
Neonatal diabetes is a form of diabetes occurring within 6 months of birth, and are commonly wrongly classified as type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent diabetes). Patients are often put on insulin injections from a tender age, often with unsatisfactory control. An astute endocrinologist will be able to easily differentiate this form of diabetes from type 1, insulin requiring diabetes. A genetic test, which is widely available nowadays can detect the presence of a mutation causing neonatal diabetes. With genetic testing result, and the presence of clinical features well supporting a diagnosis of neonatal diabetes, there is a good chance that patients can be successfully converted from insulin treatment to oral agents, often with marked improvement in their sugar control and quality of life.
The story here underscore the importance of seeking proper treatment for your diabetes, and consulting an endocrinologist promptly when there are unusual features in your diabetes that does not commensurate with the garden variety diabetes which are ubiquitous nowadays.
Spending too much time sitting in front of screens may be linked to poorer bone health in teen boys, according to a new study from Norway. The findings clearly show that sedentary lifestyle during adolescence can impact on bone mineral density and thus compromise the acquisition of peak bone mass. This can have a negative impact in terms of osteoporosis and fracture risk later in life. The skeleton grows from birth to the end of the teen years and bones reach their maximum strength and size in early adulthood. Nutrition and physical activity are major factors in bone growth. Therefore, the findings here that a sedentary lifestyle may cast a negative impact on bone health in adolescents is not surprising.
Adolescent should be encouraged to live a more active lifestyle and embrace outdoor activities more as the benefits are likely to be more far ranging than what we thought.
About one in five men older than 50 will suffer a fracture due to osteoporosis, but levels of awareness about osteoporosis risk and bone health in males are unfortunately extremely low.
Geneticists said on Wednesday they had pinpointed the most important obesity gene yet, and its functioning may explain why some people are more prone to obesity than others. It is worthwhile remembering that besides genes, obesity is a culmination of multiple other factors including lack of exercise and poor dietary habits. So rather than putting all the blame on your genes, an active lifestyle and good dietary choices still remain the most important interventions in mitigating obesity.
Obesity and related diseases like diabetes have gained epidemic proportions in many developed countries. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), obesity nearly doubled worldwide from 1980 to 2008.
The Health Promotion Board (HPB), Singapore, has launched a first-of-its-kind nationwide challenge to encourage Singaporeans who are overweight and at risk of becoming obese to battle the bulge.
According to the National Health Survey 2010, 1.7 million Singaporeans have a body mass index (BMI) of 23 or above, and they are at risk of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and stroke. HPB says one million Singaporeans with BMI of 23 or more are either already pre-diabetic, or suffer at least one or more chronic condition such as diabetes. The One Million KG Challenge aims to get Singapore residents to collectively lose one million kilogrammes by 2016.
These community initiatives reflect a greater awareness of the need to combat obesity in order to curb the increasing prevalence of diabetes, amongst other lifestyle diseases. While community initiatives like this are highly commendable in their efforts to inspire the general public to lose weight and improve their health, the bigger challenge lies in how to maintain the weight lost and to persist in living a healthy lifestyle after the challenge is over.
A new diabetes prevention website has been launched in an attempt to stop what doctors say is a worsening epidemic in Asia. Studies have shown that Asians are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, when compared with people of European ancestry. Asians are also more likely to develop the disease even at a lower BMI. This means that even though some Asian populations currently have a lower prevalence of overweight and obese individuals than populations in the West, they have a disproportionately high percentage of people with diabetes. Currently, 60% of the world’s diabetic population is Asian.
In Singapore, already 11.3% of adults have diabetes, and the numbers are set to worsen with the aging population and increasing obesity prevalence.
Another new drug canagliflozin has been approved for the treatment of diabetes in the UK. This is a new class of anti-diabetic medication that has joined the existing armory of oral agents in treatment of diabetes. Very soon, the drug will be available in Singapore similarly. The potential market for type 2 diabetes drugs is enormous and growing. An estimated 382 million people worldwide have diabetes, according to the International Diabetes Federation, with numbers set to worsen in many countries with aging population and increasing prevalence of obesity. While the addition of new treatment for diabetes is welcome, no drug is perfect enough to be a miracle panacea for the treatment of diabetes. Successful management of diabetes requires the concerted effort of appropriate medications, the sound clinical judgement of an astute physician, conscientious lifestyle modifications, consistent dietary habits, and most importantly, the patients’ motivation and desire to control their diabetes well.
A dramatic rise in thyroid cancer has resulted from overdiagnosis and treatment of tumors too small to ever cause harm, according to a study that found cases nearly tripled since 1975. This finding is not surprising considering the advent of thyroid ultrasound screening and availability of bedside histological diagnosis using fine needle aspiration in the clinic. While it is true that many of such tumor are so slow growing that they may not cause any problems for many years, such a report should not encourage patients to leave their thyroid nodules unattended. There is a risk that these thyroid nodules may be aggressive. Although watchful waiting and active surveillance would indeed suffice for many of these thyroid nodules, all thyroid nodules should still be fully evaluated by a specialist before deciding on the best course of action.