March 6, 2012

Many Ways That Diabetes Is Worse Than Cancer

Every so often, another blogger writes a blog that sets off light bulbs for you. Tom Ross wrote a blog on February 24, 2012 that did that for me. He called the blog he was reading and writing about a rather inflammatory blog. That may be true for some people and the way they see the world, but the title was spot on for me. I am not sure how many ways I can come up with reasons diabetes is worse in some ways than cancer, but I have to agree with the “Well Done Chef” and what he wrote over a year ago.

I agree with the six reasons Jason Sandeman used in his blog (sorry link no longer exists) and I would like to add some of my own to his. Therefore, you may wish to read his blog before finishing mine. In addition, you may like to read Tom Ross's blog while you are at it. All have the right things to say. I will wait for you to return.

Some of my additions are:
  1. In the USA a diagnosis of prediabetes, or for that matter diabetes, gets little attention from the doctors. You are told to watch you diet, eat low fat, and eat carbohydrates per the American Diabetes Association (ADA). This for many is poor advice. At least the American Cancer Society (ACS) is saner in their advice. I do not say the ACS is perfect, but compared to the ADA, the ACS has their act together.
  2. Most medical insurance companies in the USA do nothing to assist anyone with a diagnosis of prediabetes. No supplies or medications are covered. Cancer is cancer, and the medical insurance companies are there to pay the bills although they may not fully reimburse some of the newer procedures.
  3. Most doctors will insist on oral medications for diabetes, but give no sound dietary advice. Many will not prescribe testing supplies because they do not wish to make their patients become depressed by high blood glucose readings. Most do not even mention the complications that may develop if diabetes is not managed properly. If the diagnosis is cancer – all stops are pulled out to rid you of the cancer or at least put it into remission.
  4. The ACS is united in their support of all types of cancer and united in their fund raising efforts. Whether it is breast cancer or prostate cancer, the support is there along with a unity of symbols and support. Not so, with the ADA, JDRF, AACE, and IDF as they each have their own agenda and guard it zealously. No cooperation there and they scream bloody murder if another organization tries to usurp any credit for their work.
  5. It seems that physicians today do not know what to do with a patient diagnosed with prediabetes any better than in the past. They look to the ADA for guidance, which is not available. Unlike the ACS, the ADA has their heads where they cannot see the light, refuse to recognize that prevention could be a huge benefit, and possibly delay the onset of full diabetes for many years or possibly decades. Occasionally some medication may be needed initially while exercise and diet changes are made. The goal should be to get off the medications as soon as reasonable. The doctors do not project the importance of doing anything and the patient wrongly assumes that there is nothing to be worried about, and does nothing that could help manage the prediabetes.

The following points may have comparisons to other diseases, but for my purpose, I want to list them standing on their own. The purpose is to highlight the problems we as type 2 diabetes patients have to put up with in finding things that help us manage our diabetes.

  1. If the ADA would position their heads where they could see the light and issue guidelines for medication and treatment, the medical insurance companies would follow suit and prevention could begin. This would probably mean that the patient could delay diabetes and therefore not have the costs, which puts money in the coffers of Big Pharma. Therefore, if you think the doctors at ADA are influenced by Big Pharma, you may be right. This means that the less said about prediabetes and prevention, the better for Big Pharma, as diabetes will happen sooner and require medication.
  2. If the ADA could issue more up to date guidelines that fit the real world, maybe more people with type 2 would benefit. They have made some allowances recently, but the other medical professions that are required to follow them have not followed them and as a result, certified diabetes educators (CDEs) continue to follow out-dated guidelines and make life more difficult for type 2 patients. Many people do wish to determine for themselves whether a low-carb diet works for them. This normally means more protein and higher fat in the diet. The CDEs just will not accept this and use the mantra of whole grain, low fat and will not move from this stance.
  3. Even many dietitians follow the guidelines of the ADA and American Medical Association. This also creates problems for those wishing to adapt their diet to low carbohydrate diets. Many need guidance for nutrition about keeping their daily diet reasonably balanced. This is often difficult to obtain good advice from dietitians that are afraid of losing their certification.
  4. Education about the different aspects of managing diabetes is almost non-existent and most doctors will not spend the time necessary and most CDEs do not care enough to spend the time necessary to emphasize the importance of testing and teaching the patients how to interpret the test results and watch for trends. Because they want us to eat a set number of carbohydrates, they will not tell us to use our meter to determine how the different foods will affect our blood glucose numbers.
  5. Most doctors do not understand the management of diabetes. If they have their choice, they will push oral medications on top of oral medications. If this does not work, they think that by threatening insulin they will get the patients to do better. How, the CDEs and dietitians are inept and have their mantras they follow which does not help the patients with type 2. It is up to the patient to make the changes necessary and do trial and error to arrive at what works for them.
  6. Because the ADA will not issue guidelines for prediabetes, patients are unable to get testing supplies unless they pay for them. The same applies to adequate testing supplies for type 2 patients as well. In order to learn how different foods affect their blood glucose, they must purchase the additional testing supplies on their own.
  7. The odds are stacked against people with type 2 diabetes, first by the ADA, next by the doctors, CDEs, and dietitians. Then add the insurance companies to keep costs down and prevent patients for learning how to manage diabetes for maximum benefits and prevention of the complications.

The only areas diabetes and cancer have in common, but are not exactly the same is dealing with big pharmaceutical companies. Cancer drugs are placed in short supply to up the price of drugs that become generic while diabetes drugs that become generic generally just ceased to be produced, forcing everyone to the more expensive drugs.

The second common area is that most medical insurance companies put cancer and diabetes patients in managed care programs to clamp down on excessive costs where possible and control the treatments. You may be well treated if the need is there, but if the insurance company feels something is excessive, they will force the doctors and hospitals to limit the services.

At least with a cancer diagnosis, you know there is a plan of real action, not the namby-pamby crap handed out with a diagnosis of prediabetes or even type 2 diabetes – if you are lucky to get any assistance. Blame must fall on the medical profession for not learning about diabetes. Then treating it properly, and educating the patients to do their due diligence with self-monitoring of blood glucose. The patients must also be trained to understand what the readings mean and when to test.

Patients should learn that they are their own laboratory experiment and act accordingly as the lab rat. Learn what the different foods do to your blood glucose levels and why you must eliminate certain foods from your menu and greatly reduce the consumption of other foods. Why can I not give you a list to remove, because each person is different, you must determine for yourself what you can eat and not eat.

Yes, I can say eat more protein, but not a lot more. Learn not to follow past mantras of the medical profession. These include, whole grains, low fat, and low cholesterol foods. You must now learn that carbohydrates are very likely your enemy, moderate to high fat meals may be your friend, and some (but not all) cholesterol-laden foods may actually help reduce your overall cholesterol levels. Generally, you will want to avoid the highly processed packaged foods.

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