Dear Editor:

Diabetes and its complications is one of the leading causes of death in the United States today. I suggest that there needs to be more awareness by the public and our political leaders about this disease and the effect it is having upon a large segment of the American population.

More knowledge is needed to improve our understanding of the disease and methods to treat and assist those afflicted by this problem. Our understanding of the disease and its complications, such as peripheral neuropathy and the extreme pain associated with this condition, peripheral vascular disease, renal failure, etc. is lacking.

With the growing incidence of this disease we should demand that our leaders provide more funding to help researchers to understand the disease and to provide more assistance to those whose lives have been severely impacted by this disease.

Diabetes is not a new disease; in Egyptian manuscript from the second century before Christ we read of a description of a disease whose symptoms are similar to those of diabetes. Diabetes is mentioned in the ancient writing of physicians from Indian, China, Japan, Korea, Greece and Rome. In the 19th century doctors noticed that individuals who died from diabetes and its complications also had damaged pancreases.

However, it was not until the 20th century that a link between diabetes, the pancreas and insulin production was made. In the 1920s scientists at the University of Toronto extracted insulin from the pancreas of cows. This bovine insulin was purified and tested on humans and this research showed that diabetes could be controlled by the use of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels lessening the complications from the disease. Today almost all insulin is produced using recombinant DNA techniques allowing for purer and safer insulin and a more constant supply.

However, even with these great advances diabetes continues to increase in the United States. Reasons for this are many: heredity, sedentary life style, obesity, etc. But no matter the cause, diabetes is a serious disease and a drain on our economy in terms of both health care costs and lost wages. A recent study presented data that showed that individuals with diabetic neuropathy of the peripheral nervous system are twice as likely to be unemployed as individuals without this medical problem.

In conclusion, society needs to focus more on this disease. We all must work together to increase our understanding of the causes and results of this disease to help those who suffer from it to have some sense of normalcy and respect in their lives.

Thank you so much,

Kathleen Jones,

Jim Thorpe