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Diabetes affects more than 300 million worldwide, but life-expectancy has increased

June 28, 2011

Researchers at Imperial College London and the Harvard School of Public Health have found that the number of adults worldwide with diabetes reached 347 million in 2008, more than double the number in 1980.

Seventy per cent of the rise was due to population growth and aging, with the other 30 per cent due to higher prevalence.

Increased life expectancy

Despite this news, the life expectancy of people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes dramatically increased during the course of a long-term, 30-year prospective study, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health researchers have found.

The life expectancy for participants diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1965 and 1980 was 68.8 years — a 15-year improvement compared to those diagnosed between 1950 and 1964. The 30-year mortality of participants diagnosed with type 1 diabetes from 1965 to 1980 was 11.6 percent — a significant decline from the 35.6 percent 30-year mortality of those diagnosed between 1950 and 1964.

Reversing diabetes with extreme diet

In addition, a team at Newcastle University has discovered that Type 2 diabetes can be reversed by an extreme low-calorie diet alone.

Under close medical supervision, 11 people who had developed diabetes later in life were put on a diet of just 600 calories a day consisting of liquid diet drinks and non-starchy vegetables. After just one week, the team found that the volunteers’ pre-breakfast blood sugar levels had returned to normal, fat levels in the pancreas had returned from an elevated level to normal, and the pancreas regained the normal ability to make insulin.

The researchers followed up on the volunteers three months later. During this time, the volunteers had returned to eating normally but had received advice on portion size and healthy eating.  Of the ten people re-tested, seven remained free of diabetes.

Ref.: Goodarz Danaei, et al., National, regional, and global trends in fasting plasma glucose and diabetes prevalence since 1980: systematic analysis of health examination surveys and epidemiological studies with 370 country-years and 2·7 million participants, The Lancet, 2011; [DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60679-X]

Ref.: Rachel G. Miller, et al., Improvements in the Life Expectancy of Type 1 Diabetes: The Pittsburgh Epidemiology of Diabetes Complications Study, American Diabetes Association online, [Abstract Number 0078-OR]

Ref.: R. Taylor, et al., Reversal of type 2 diabetes: normalisation of beta cell function in association with decreased pancreas and liver triacylglycerol, Diabetologia, 2011; [DOI 10.1007/s00125-011-2204-7]

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