Friday, 22 June 2007

Type 1 smokers at risk for severe hypoglycemia

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My family is no stranger to severe hypoglycemic episodes. With four type 1 diabetics living busy, active lives, serious low blood sugars have resulted in pleading cries to "please drink the o.j., now!" ... to emergency glucagon kits, calls to 911, even a cast for broken bones. Whether or not consciousness was lost, episodes of severe hypoglycemia rattle the family cage. It is scary to witness your loved one out of control both physically and mentally. Beyond mental confusion, severe hypoglycemia can even trigger seizures or coma.

A study published this month in Diabetes Care reveals type 1 diabetics who smoke have a 2.6-fold increase in severe hypoglycemic episodes. The study examined 537 participants enrolled in the Wisconsin Epidemiologic Study of Diabetic Retinopathy. Experts hypothesize smoking's effect on the regulation of hormones and insulin can result in severe hypoglycemia. Whatever the case, smoking and diabetes are not a good mix, they are a molatov cocktail when it comes to your health. Smoking is associated with increased risk for diabetic retinal defects, nerve damage and impaired-kidney function.

I am downright angry my family has to deal with severe low blood sugars, especially the hypoglycemic unawareness brand. Read more on the study in Reuters.

Women in their 50s on estrogen have healthier arteries

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As a kid, I cleaned my trumpet by shoving a flexible wire brush through the metal tubing. There was a lot of gunk in there since I regularly blew that trumpet with a Jolly Rancher hard candy tucked in my cheek. I had access to a never-ending supply as my older brother, a type 1 diabetic, used them to treat low blood sugar.

For women in their 50s, it looks like estrogen keeps the gunk from seriously building up in the arteries. A study recently published the New England Journal of Medicine examined high-tech heart scans to survey calcium buildup in the arteries of 1,064 women from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI), a 15-year government study researching strategies to prevent heart disease, cancers and fractures in postmenopausal women. In the WHI, women in the 50-59 age range taking estrogen had 30 to 40 percent less severe coronary-artery calcium than similarly aged women on a placebo. A dramatic 60 percent lower risk of severe coronary calcium was realized for women regularly taking the study pills.

Keep in mind, this study only looked at women who had hysterectomies and were taking solely estrogen, not the estrogen/progestin combination taken by menopausal women with a uterus. This study has nothing to say about healthier arteries in those taking the combo hormone therapy. Besides, most menopausal women are afraid of hormone therapy after the National Institutes of Health suddenly stopped the WHI estrogen/progesterone trials five years ago after finding menopausal hormone therapy was associated with heart-attack risk.

Possibly one BIG overreaction -- here's the key -- the heart effects of hormones depend on a woman's age and how recently she entered menopause. Start hormones ten or more years past menopause and you're at greater risk for heart attack, but using the hormones at the start of menopause appears to lower risk.

Leading the analysis, WHI investigator JoAnn E. Manson says this does not mean women should start popping estrogen for heart health. However, Dr. Manson says the findings should be reassuring to younger women considering estrogen to relieve those annoying hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Hugh Taylor, an investigator on the subject, says more and more evidence suggests hormones help hearts of younger women. Taylor feels the heart benefits of taking hormones should be added in the equation.

Don't forget this other important fact, women who use estrogen have a lower diabetes risk.

Antidepressants helping heart patients in unusual way

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It's another case of medications helping in the most unlikely of ways -- it seems some types of antidepressants can help patients avoid certain complications after suffering a severe heart attack or angina. A particular class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs) keep platelets from sticking together, which seems to be having a unexpected benefit for heart patients who just happen to be taking those types of drugs anyway.

At this point larger studies are being called for, but at the same time there is enough evidence now for doctors to take SSRIs into account when treating patients.

Thought for the day: talk to teens about cancer

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Right now, the furthest thing from the minds of most young people is the topic and concept of cancer. Why should young people even be thinking of such things, you say? Well, in the society we live in, the habits -- both nutritionally and lifestyle-wise -- are being formed as kids grow into teenagers. Before long, those habits become adult lifestyle traits and therein the road to possible cancer development begins.

Think about this:

There are many foods and beverages, from what I have read, that contribute to all types of cancer. Mostly, these are highly-processed and chemical-filled foods. But are teenagers these days eating raw, vegan or organic diets? Will the habits they are learning now carry over into adulthood?


Contributing to the world -- not achieving things -- is what every human's goal should be to the world. That's from Peter Drucker, a famed management and personal inspiration guru. One of the best contributions we can make would be to educate our youngsters on health issues they may face in the future -- and cancer is going to be one of the top ones in my opinion.
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Rock musician Richard Bell dies of multiple myeloma

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Keyboardist and songwriter Richard Bell, one-time member of Janis Joplin's band, died one June 15 of multiple myeloma in a Toronto hospital. He was 61.

Bell, who began playing with Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band in 1970, was diagnosed with cancer one year ago. He received intensive treatment and made a comeback, despite his poor prognosis. This past spring, however, his cancer returned.

Bell is also known for his musical work with artists such as Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Joe Walsh, Paul Butterfield, The Cowboy Junkies, Bruce Cockburn, and Bonnie Raitt. His most recent gig was with the Toronto jazz and blue group Pork Bellies Futures.

He is survived by his mother, his sister, and his nieces and nephews.

Prostate cancer risk reduced by fatty acid consumption ratio

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If you are into making sure you consumer the proper level of essential fatty acids in your diets (or from supplements) each day, increasing the level of one while decreasing the level of another could reduce the risk or prostate cancer, according to a recent study that was done on animals (but is being translated to humans).

It's no surprise really that the diet we choose is probably one of the single-largest factors in the outcome of our health, and this research seems to suggest that monitoring ad controlling a higher level of Omega-3 fatty acids while lowering the amount of Omega-6 fatty acids could lead to the reduced possibility of contracting prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer diagnoses occur at a clip of about one million cases per year, with 200,000 deaths (worldwide), and it's growing. Reducing that growth (or stopping it, if that is possible) by diet changes would seem to be a wise course of action for the world's male population, no?

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Coffee: Surprisingly good for you

Coffee is often touted as the enemy, along with alcohol and trans fats. But did you know that coffee is shown to help prevent liver cancer? And? It's the number one source of antioxidants in the diet of Americans, according to this? That's exciting news if, like me, you enjoy a cup or two in the morning. Of course, a cup or two is about all you should be consuming -- after that, the effects of the caffeine counteract any benefits that a cup of java has. And don't overdose on the cream or sugar either.

So load up your Starbucks card and grab a round with your co-workers ... it's good for you!

C.H.A.M.P.S.S. offers help for parents trying to quit smoking

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I often think that one of the most difficult aspects of being a parent is modeling appropriate behavior for my children. Kids are sponges and absorb all of our actions and behaviors whether we want them to or not. This becomes especially important when it comes to smoking. A parent can tell a child that smoking is bad, but when that same parent then lights up and inhales, the child is not likely to get a full understanding of why smoking is bad for their health.

One website that looks like a great aid in helping parents to stop smoking is C.H.A.M.P.S.S. or Children Helping and Motivating Parents to Stop Smoking. This site offers tips to kids on how to approach their parents about smoking habits. One suggestions tells children to explain that they want their parents to play with them more, another tells kids not to get angry with their parents about smoking habits. There are E-Cards that kids can send to their parents offering support and encouragement. There is also a section just for parents with questions on how to quit the habit. This site offers some wonderful tools for families, take a moment to check it out and share it with somebody you love.

European approval sought for new liver cancer drug

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A newer drug called Nexavar, used for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma cancer, is being marketed by Bayer and Onyx Pharmaceuticals in Europe to be approved for an officially-sanctioned treatment of liver cancer.

Although Nexavar is being used in 50 countries for kidney cancer, the drug is now being described as a possible treatment for advanced liver cancer, it is now being suggested by both pharmaceutical companies for the treatment of liver cancer in Europe, with an application as a supplemental new drug being sent to the FDA sometime this summer, according to reports.

The summary phase 3 trial data concluded that Nexavar extended overall survival by 44 percent in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma compared to a placebo treatment. In addition, no additional side effects were noticed between Nexavar and placebo treatment patients.

Tips on traveling with diabetes supplies

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Whenever I fly since 9/11, I'm never sure what I can bring through airport security. Am I allowed a bottle of water? What about my kids' sippy cups? Can my mini-shampoo weigh four ounces or is it three ounces? I don't fly often enough to be familiar with the screening rules, which can change instantaneously. Remember the liquid bomb incident when suddenly everyone had to dump their toiletries and expensive perfumes in airport trash cans?

The American Diabetes Association works closely with the federal government's Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to provide guidelines and protocol to ensure travelers with diabetes can board with all necessary insulin and supplies, even during times of high security alert.

Check out the TSA's most recent recommendations for airline passengers with diabetes. It addresses gear, as well as advice for pump wearers. The ADA is continually providing feedback to the TSA, so please report any problems experienced with airport security by calling the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES.

A tribute: Picking up the pieces a year after a loss

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Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my father's death. His death came as a complete surprise to friends and family alike. My father was 65. There were few men in their 30's or 40's who were as fit and dedicated to diet and exercise as my dad. In fact, he died in the late afternoon sunshine while riding his mountain bike after a full day of work. The past year has been one of shock and incredible pain for so many people who knew and loved my father.

Heart disease runs in my father's side of the family, his father and sister died of heart attacks and another brother had multiple by-pass surgery in his early 40's. In light of the family history, my father spent a good part of his life exercising and eating well in order to live a better life. There wasn't a member in our family who thought for a moment that we would lose him so soon and with no chance to say good-bye.

Many of us have spent the last year trying to let go and say our good-byes. These are one sided conversations because my dad is no longer here. Picking up the pieces and repairing our lives is something we strive for everyday. 365 days does not make anything better or magically heal the pain. We lost a great man in the span of just a few breaths, that will never change. But we have made it through one year and we are still standing, that counts for something.
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Is your doctor giving you the attention you deserve?

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When my dad was sick with cancer, it was like pulling teeth trying to get his doctor to pay attention to him, and that's one of the reasons I think my dad went untreated for so long even though he was slowly dying. We tried to convince him to switch but he felt some sort of bizarre loyalty to his MD. And loyalty is a good thing in this day and age, but your physician is there to protect your life and if yours isn't looking out for you as well as he or she can, it's time to switch, no matter how much you like them. It's your life on the line, after all.

AOL Health has put together the 10 signs you should dismiss your doctor and find one who will take proper care of you. Unfortunately, where I live in Canada, one can't choose their physician -- there's too much of a shortage, and people are lucky to have one at all.

Coffee and liver cancer

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Can coffee reduce the risk of liver cancer? According to findings published in the medical journal Gastroenterology it can. "Data on potential beneficial effects of coffee on liver function and liver diseases have accrued over the last two decades," states Drs. Susanna C. Larsson and Alicja Wolk, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

11 studies involving 2,260 liver cancer patients and 239,146 individuals without liver cancer showed that for every 2 cups of coffee per day, the investigators observed a 43 percent reduced risk of liver cancer. Coffee contains large amounts of antioxidants, such as chlorogenic acids that have an inhibitory effect on liver cancer.

Spice up a low-salt diet

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Salt is everywhere these days, in and on everything, even if you can't always taste it. And although one of the most basic things you can do to live and eat healthier is watch your sodium intake, switching (or sticking) to a low salt diet isn't an easy thing to do because everything suddenly tastes so bland. But just a few basic tricks with your spice cabinet can change all that, like trying red and white pepper instead of black always and mixing jalepeños into meals like meatloaf.

And another good tip is that even though spices technically "keep" for an undetermined amount of time, replacing them regularly (or simply buying them in smaller amounts) will greatly increase the flavor they add to your meals.

Spread of breast cancer helped by 'rogue' cells

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Breast cancer continues to be a large concern for all women these days. A regular mammogram and consistent self-checks are great initial tools for testing for breast cancer, and more than likely,most women are using them due to the fact breast cancer has seen so much publicity in the last decade. This is a very good thing.

What isn't so good is when cancer cells that form the basis of breast cancer spread into other areas of the body. Using a breast model that contained cells grown outside the body, researchers recently mimicked how breast cancer cells travel outside of the breast with the goal of detection of that kind of activity for possible treatments.

Although this kind of activity could not be witnessed in a real breast, this research may indeed allow cancer specialists to determine how and why breast cancer cells move outside the breast where more cancerous concerns can develop. Anything that advances that cause is quite worthy research in my book.

First successful transplant for DiabeCell

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DiabeCell has successfully been transplanted into the first type I diabetes patient. This trial is testing its efficacy and safety in controlling the dangerous blood glucose levels to prevent long-term secondary complications of type I diabetes.

Living Cell Technologies has announced the successful transplant into the first of six type I (insulin dependent) diabetic patients in a world-first human clinical trial using DiabeCell. Patients in the trial will receive two low doses of the pig islet cells every six months over a 12 month period, followed by a further 12 month study, evaluating the benefits. Recipients in this first trial are given the lowest clinically effective dose to demonstrate safety. The dosing is repeated for additional clinical benefit. The company hopes to commercialize the product for general use by 2012.

DiabeCell is a pig pancreatic islet cell product that secretes insulin in response to the patient's blood glucose levels. People with type I diabetes are not able to produce their own insulin because their pancreas cells are not functioning. DiabeCell has been uniquely developed with a gel that forms a tiny capsule around the cells. This prevents the patient's immune system from destroying the transplant and does not require immunosuppressive drugs. Think of DiabeCell as bubble wrap for islets -- cool, right?

Form and Function: Cell division

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I am a Licensed Practical Nurse with five years' experience in this profession. I believe it is essential to go back to the basics in all things in order to really understand them. I am fascinated by how our bodies work and I hope I can get my readers to share my fascination. I hope we all learn new things and marvel again at the things we already know. This feature -- which includes a closing section on how disease affects the topic in question -- will run on The Cancer Blog on Wednesdays, and The Cardio Blog and The Diabetes Blog on Thursdays. [The contents in this post are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or substitute for professional medical care.]

We start with the cell, because so much of what happens to us when we get sick, and how we get healthy again, can be explained by what happens on a cellular level. The cell is extremely complex and I will only touch on the basics in these posts, but at least we can have a rudimentary understanding.

We have discussed cell membranes (May 24), as well as cell organelles (May 31). On , June 7,we discussed the cellular transport mechanisms and on June 14, we discussed the cell nucleus. As we near the end of this series on the cell, we get to one of the most interesting parts: cell division.

One of the features of a cell is it's ability to reproduce independently. In somatic cell division, a cell undergoes a nuclear division called mitosis. Reproductive cell division is the mechanism that produces gametes. This process consists of a two step division called meiosis.

In this post we will look at the process of mitosis. Each of us began life as one cell, a fertilized egg. Each of us now consists of billions of cells produced by the process of mitosis. In mitosis one cell with the diploid number of chromosomes (46, except in chromosomal abnormalities) divides into two identical daughter cells, each with the diploid number of chromosomes. Mitosis is a continuous process compromised of a series of events. This series of events are divided into different stages called: prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase and cytokinesis. Prior to these events interphase occurs, which is divided into 3 phases of its own.
Interphase is the period in which the cell spends most of its time performing unique functions.
  • G1: Metabolically active cell duplicates organelles and cytosolic components.
  • S: The DNA within the nucleus replicates.
  • G2: Cell growth, enzyme and protein synthesis continues.

The phases of mitosis are as follows:

  • Prophase: The chromosomes coil up and become visible as short rods. Each chromosome is really 2 chromatids (original DNA plus its copy) still attached at a region called a centromere. The nucleus and nucleolus disappear. The centrioles organize the spindle fibers.
  • Metaphase: The pairs of chromatids line up. Chromatids are the copies of the chromosonal threads. 92 chromosomes in 46 pairs exist at the equator of the cell.
  • Anaphase: Each chromatid is now considered a separate chromosome. The spindle fibers contract and pull the chromosomes, one set toward each pole of the cell.
  • Telophase: The chromosomes uncoil and nucleus and nucleolus form. The spindle apparatus is dismantled and a nuclear membrane re-forms around each set of chromosomes.
  • Cytokinesis: Cleavage furrow is formed by contracting microfilaments; the cell's cytoplasm is divided by cleavage.

How does this affect you?

Researchers are looking into microRNA, small molecules that regulate cell division. They play a role in diabetes (and other disease processes) and this research could not only lead to new drug discoveries, but could also shed light on the disease itself. Read more about this at Science Daily.

The left and the right sugar readings

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Last night I had my usual for dinner: chick peas and a red pepper. Not that I'm a vegan or anything - I'm just lazy and this is quick and easy and full of fiber. So as I finished the last pulse on my Braun mini chopper -- I sliced my plump red pepper. My mouth watered for dinner. Time to check my blood sugar - dinners on!

I'm right handed, for those of you who were dying to know. So I pricked my left thumb and 5 seconds later my little trusty Agamatrix tells me my blood sugar is 596 mg/dL. No way, buddy! My mouth is watering. My last meal was hours ago - and my last blood sugar, 3 hours before, was 190! So I get a second opinion - a right hand opinion! The right hand says my blood sugar is 167 mg/dL. A lot more like it!

What's the moral of my story? Accuracy is subjective. The red pepper juice was invisible to the naked eye. When my semi sweet blood mixed with it - my sugar was 596 mg/dL (after I washed my hands). The right hand told a different story. Sound familiar? If I treated for the left hand without double-checking with my right-- I don't think I would've enjoyed my dinner so much. How accurate are urine strips again? I'm not that freaky. I can't chop vegetables with anything but my hands. Feel free to share your own tales of left vs. right readings. What skewed your results? And is urine testing such a bad idea, after all? I told you I was lazy.

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Widow and son sue Avandia maker

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It has only been ten days since the the first lawsuit was filed on behalf of investors against Avandia manufacturerer, GlaxoSmithKline. If you've missed the story, an independent meta-analysis of Avandia's clinical trials revealed the popular type 2 diabetes drug increased heart attacks by 43 percent. Prescriptions have been falling, so perhaps "was a popular drug" is more appropriate.

Lawyers have been predicting a wave of litigation from victims. Sound the tsunami alarm, it is just beginning to crest. Two days ago the first lawsuit was filed on behalf Larry Alan Stanford, a sixty-year-old man who suffered a fatal heart attack on May 21, the day the independent meta-analysis was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Mr. Stanford's widow, Peggie Stanford, and son, Ryan Stanford, filed the lawsuit in Texas. Stanford had taken Avandamet since 2005, a form of Avandia mixed with another diabetes drug. The Stanford's attorney, Stephen Drinnon, stated Glaxo kept selling Avandia to the public, even though they knew there were problems with the drug. Glaxo, of course, is standing behind the safety and research efficacy of its Profit Prizefighter Avandia. Expect this fight to go the full twelve rounds -- Big Pharma has deep pockets. We'll wait and see if Glaxo's retaining walls are built upon strong, ethical research or crumbling grains of sand.

Form and Function: Cell division

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I am a Licensed Practical Nurse with five years' experience in this profession. I believe it is essential to go back to the basics in all things in order to really understand them. I am fascinated by how our bodies work and I hope I can get my readers to share my fascination. I hope we all learn new things and marvel again at the things we already know. This feature -- which includes a closing section on how disease affects the topic in question -- will run on The Cancer Blog on Wednesdays, and The Cardio Blog and The Diabetes Blog on Thursdays. [The contents in this post are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or substitute for professional medical care.]

We start with the cell, because so much of what happens to us when we get sick, and how we get healthy again, can be explained by what happens on a cellular level. The cell is extremely complex and I will only touch on the basics in these posts, but at least we can have a rudimentary understanding.

We have discussed cell membranes (May 24), as well as cell organelles (May 31). On June 7, we discussed the cellular transport mechanisms and on June 14 the cell nucleus.As we near the end of this series on the cell, we get to one of the most interesting parts: cell division.

One of the features of a cell is it's ability to reproduce independently. In somatic cell division, a cell undergoes a nuclear division called mitosis. Reproductive cell division is the mechanism that produces gametes. This process consists of a two step division called meiosis.

In this post we will look at the process of mitosis. Each of us began life as one cell, a fertilized egg. Each of us now consists of billions of cells produced by the process of mitosis. In mitosis one cell with the diploid number of chromosomes (46, except in chromosomal abnormalities) divides into two identical daughter cells, each with the diploid number of chromosomes. Mitosis is a continuous process compromised of a series of events. This series of events are divided into different stages called: prophase, metaphase, anaphase, telophase and cytokinesis. Prior to these events interphase occurs, which is divided into 3 phases of its own.

Interphase is the period in which the cell spends most of its time performing unique functions.
  • G1: Metabolically active cell duplicates organelles and cytosolic components.
  • S: The DNA within the nucleus replicates.
  • G2: Cell growth, enzyme and protein synthesis continues.

The phases of mitosis are as follows:

  • Prophase: The chromosomes coil up and become visible as short rods. Each chromosome is really 2 chromatids (original DNA plus its copy) still attached at a region called a centromere. The nucleus and nucleolus disappear. The centrioles organize the spindle fibers.
  • Metaphase: The pairs of chromatids line up. Chromatids are the copies of the chromosonal threads. 92 chromosomes in 46 pairs exist at the equator of the cell.
  • Anaphase: Each chromatid is now considered a separate chromosome. The spindle fibers contract and pull the chromosomes, one set toward each pole of the cell.
  • Telophase: The chromosomes uncoil and nucleus and nucleolus form. The spindle apparatus is dismantled and a nuclear membrane re-forms around each set of chromosomes.
  • Cytokinesis: Cleavage furrow is formed by contracting microfilaments; the cell's cytoplasm is divided by cleavage.

How does this affect you?

Cardiac myocytes' cell cycles stop soon after birth. That means that the heart cannot repair itself after injury. Research is looking at ways to "restart" the cell cycle. For more on this, go to Physiological Reviews.

Diabetic deaths drop in men, but not women

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Diabetes puts people at risk for heart attack and stroke and cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in diabetics. As deaths from heart diseases decline, men with diabetes are also suffering fewer fatal cardiovascular events. But death rates among women with diabetes -- at least up until the year 2000 -- appear to be holding steady. Recent studies don't pinpoint a clear reason, but Dr. Nanette Wegner, a cardiologist, believes the reason may be that women's heart issues are not treated as aggressively as men's.

The good news is that greater priority has been placed on women's heart health over the last few years and awareness of women's unique heart issues is improving. There's evidence to suggest that since the study ended in 2000, deaths among women from heart disease has dropped and diabetes management has improved. If you have diabetes, speak to your doctor and make sure you are aggressively managing your disease to protect your heart and your future health.

A holistic approach to your heart

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Nourishing your emotions is the first way to nourish your heart, according to Dr. Rangesh Paramesh, an Ayurveda specialist. Ayurveda, literally translated, means the knowledge of life in Sanskrit. According to Dr. Paramesh, the heart is at the centre of all emotions -- stress, sadness, anger, and so on -- and to heal your heart, you must heal yourself first.

The heart can also benefit from herbs, like Arjuna. As for the diet, Dr. Paramesh recommends eating moderate amounts but eating enough to sustain you too -- no skipping meals. Fluids are of the utmost importance, in order to cleans the body of toxins that wear it down. To read the full article, click here.

What do you think -- sound advice, or a load of new-age babble?



Little House on the Prairie creator dies at 85

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Ed Friendly, television producer and thoroughbred horse owner, helped create the hits Little House on the Prairie and Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In has died from cancer.

The show Laugh-In, that he co-created, won several Emmys. Ed served as an infantry captain in World War II. His jobs included advertising, radio and later television director, director of sales for ABC, contract producer at CBS and he eventually became NBC's vice president of special programs. Looks like he had all the major networks covered!

Friendly is survived by his second wife, a daughter, son, and three grandchildren.

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Gossip columnist Claudia Cohen dies of ovarian cancer

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High-profile television and newspaper gosspip columnist Claudia Cohen, most recently a regular correspondent covering entertainment for the syndicated talk show Live With Regis and Kelly, died Friday of ovarian cancer. She was 56.

Known for her aggressive pursuit of celebrity news and her public divorce from billionaire businessman Ronald O. Perelman, Cohen first hit the spotlight in the late 1970s as a reporter and editor for Page Six of The New York Post. She went on to write a gossip column titled I, Claudia for The Daily News of New York, report for Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, and dish celebrity dirt for ABC's The Morning Show.

Cohen is survived by her parents, a brother, and a daughter.

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Recipe for Healthy Living: Steel cut oats with blueberries

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Since the 1970s, researchers have suspected that diet and nutrition are related to colorectal cancer risk. Numerous studies published since that time have confirmed the connection between what we eat and risk of this cancer. Many health experts agree that a high fiber diet is important for cancer prevention, but questions remain about how much and which types of high fiber foods may reduce colorectal cancer risk most effectively. This has led to interest in specific high fiber foods, especially whole grains.

Start the day with a bowl of whole grain cereal or oatmeal. For cold cereals, choose one that contains at least 6 grams of fiber per serving and make sure you pick one where sugar does not appear first, second or third in the ingredient list. Oatmeal is not only high fiber but studies show that it helps reduce cholesterol. But if you are like me I am not fond of the mushy breakfast food. Until a dear musician friend introduced me to steel oats. Now I can't get enough of these nutty oats and even eat them for late night snacks.

Steel cut oats are whole grain groats which have been cut into only two or three pieces. Which means the the inner portion of the oat kernel is not missing like in rolled oats. They are golden in color and resemble small rice pieces. Steel-cut oats are also known as coarse cut oats, pinhead oats, Scotch oats, or Irish oats. Because the steel cut oats are more natural with less pre-processing, they may be more nutritious than the more popular rolled oats. But to me they give off a more nutty taste and I like the small crunch over the mushy consistency of the rolled oats. The cooking time is longer on steel cut oats but really worth the wait.

When shopping for them in your grocery store, look for canisters much like coffee cans as they are kept in air tight containers.

Preparing your Steel Oats.

1 cup steel cut oats
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp butter
Fresh Blueberries or other fresh fruits.

Combine oats and other ingredients in medium saucepan and bring water to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally to keep from sticking on the bottom. For the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking time you will need to stir more frequently as it thickens. Spoon into a bowl and top with fresh fruit. Some people like to add a little milk to the bowl to give them a creamy texture. Makes 4 servings.

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Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Diamyd clinical trial speed bump

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Circumstances of confusion invalidated a Diamyd clinical trial to protect insulin-producing cells in diabetes patients. This confusion amounts to a speed bump, but Diamyd intends to press on.

The company admitted hat the Phase II clinical trial of its gene therapy had been botched following a mix up over which patients received the drug and which got placebo. Diamyd is a vaccine based on GAD65, a major factor for diabetes due to an autoimmune reaction. The company designed the vaccine to reduce the need of insulin injections and prevent the destruction of beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. Also, by protecting these cells, it may allow them to regenerate in a non-autoimmune environment, and possibly set the stage for a cure of the disease.

Anders Essen-Möller, CEO of Diamyd, said: "Was the drug mixed up? We do not know. Could there be a mix up at some other times in the study? Yes it is possible, but that is not certain." Essen-Möller is determined not to let the mistake ruin the vaccine's progress towards approval. Essen-Möller also said he believes that the invalidation of the trial will not adversely affect any ongoing meetings with potential partners.

Pain control in cancer patients

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Telling your doctor or nurse about pain is not a sign of weakness and you should not accept pain as a normal part of having cancer. You have a right as a cancer patient who is experiencing pain, to ask for pain relief. When you are free of pain, you can sleep and eat better, enjoy the company of those around you, and can continue on with work and hobbies.

If your doctor suggests no other options to reduce your pain after discussing it with him, then ask to see a pain specialist or ask your doctor to consult with a pain specialist which may be an oncologist, anesthesiologist, neurologist, or neurosurgeon.

Use a pain scale when talking with your doctor. For example your pain might be 5 on a scale of 0 to 10. Other important factors you should discuss with your doctor is How bad your pain is at its worse. How bad your pain is most of the time. How bad your pain is at its least. How your pain changes with treatments. You should also discuss where you feel your pain, what it feels like whether sharp, dull, throbbing, or steady and how long the pain lasts. If you find something that eases the pain or makes it worse in your daily routine should also be discussed.

Some non drug treatments for pain that you can add to your daily routine are relaxing and staying in a quiet place. Slow rhythmic breathing while concentrating your eyes on an object or with your eyes closed thinking of a peaceful scene. With the palm of your hand or with the help of someone else, massage near the area of pain in a circular and firm manner. Acupuncture sometimes relieves certain pain and nausea.

Mandatory cervical cancer vaccine surfaces in India

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With the recent doing and undoing of a mandatory cervical cancer vaccine for teenage girls in Texas, the same looks to be happening in the country of India.

Girls between the ages of 11 and 14 would be vaccinated against the virus that causes cervical cancer (HPV) if the new Indian program is implemented by the government there.

Is this just the latest attempt by the western pharmaceutical companies to "mandate" vaccinations for profit purposes of is there really a need for this? With an estimated 70% o cervical cancer being attributed to HPV, is mandatory vaccinations the answer? In the U.S. state of Texas, the term "mandatory" did not sit right with constituents.

Heart care and racial differences

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It's a harsh reality but it's the truth: after a heart attack, African American patients are given sub-standard care compared to their Caucasian counterparts. A study found that African Americans were 30% less likely to receive proper care than white Americans, regardless of the hospital they're treated at.

What's the reason for this? Many believe it's because discrimination, either blatant or subtle. Which I think is especially sad because it shows that no matter how far we've come, we've still got a long way to go in terms of equality for all.

Do you have any personal experience with this sort of injustice?

Genie in a bottle of diet pills

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The US weight-loss supplement industry made $3.9 billion in sales last year. With this information The Diet Channel took a good, hard look at the safety and efficacy of diet pills, both over the counter and prescription.

Prescription weight loss pills are heavily regulated and over the counter are not. Some of the prescriptions meds reviewed include: fen-phen, Meridia, and Orlistat. Prescription meds are qualified by their ability to induce 10-20% weight loss in a year. However, both prescription and over-the-counter provisions state you must follow a healthy diet and exercise. To expect a change in your body without changing your lifestyle is nearly irrational.

Over the counter products tend to evade heavy regulation. However this lack of regulation comes at the cost of potentially harmful side effects. The article continues to mention other over the counter weight loss supplements including: green tea, caffeine, hoodia and alli. The billion dollar question is: if any of these pills truly worked, why is the obesity epidemic getting worse? Stay tuned for an upcoming article on the newest supplement alli. No, it wasn't named after me.

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Prescriber's Letter offers practitioners unbiased Avandia advice

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Avandia is out of the top headlines lately, but I am sure the controversial drug remains top-of-mind for type 2 diabetics carrying a prescription.

I fumbled upon Prescriber's Letter recently, an independent service providing information about meds to paid subscribers. They claim their research reports are unbiased, the website does not accept advertising (a plus) and overviews are written by editors advised by experts, government agencies and national organizations. The June edition of Prescriber's Letter offers a synopsis on Avandia. It might be worth a read.

In a nutshell, Prescriber's acknowledges Dr. Nissen's meta-analysis which points to higher heart attack risk for Avandia versus different meds or placebos. They also acknowledge experts are critical of Dr. Nissen's study as they are running the numbers and coming up with different conclusions. Keep in mind, Avandia and Actos are in the same class of drug -- they are both glitazones. They were also recently assigned the stricter black box warning of heart failure by the Federal Drug Administration. Prescriber's explains Avandia's only proven benefit is glycemic control, and does not provide long-term cardiovascular benefit. Clinicians are asking if Avandia's potential cardio risk is a class effect. Meaning, could Actos, a glitazone, also have the same problem? Many experts say Actos does not carry the same risk, citing a PROactive study that suggests the drug might reduce heart attack and stroke. But once again, PROactive is highly debated. Prescriber's reminds clinicians that edema is a side effect of glitazones, and should not be offered to moderate to severe heart failure patients.

Here is Prescriber's advice for type 2 diabetes. Most patients should receive metformin first, as it is well-tolerated and may have beneficial cardio effects. If a glitazone is started, choose Actos. If a patient is stable on Avandia, do not switch. They remind clinicians Dr. Nissen's meta-analysis does not prove heart attack risk for Avandia, and if there is a risk, it's extremely low. We'll all sit tight and wait for Glaxo's RECORD study, due in 2009, provided study participants have not jumped ship.

Beware the wrath of alli

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It's here and you should know all about the first over the counter FDA approved weight loss pill, alli. A word of caution: if you're a cheater on your diets - it seems like Glaxo is raising red flags before things get messy. No seriously, read on to find out what I'm talking about.

Alli works by preventing your body from absorbing some of the fat you eat. It attaches to natural enzymes in the digestive system and prevents absorption of fat from the foods you eat. Undigested fat cannot be absorbed and passes through the body naturally. I know you're wondering about side effects, so here you go: the most common treatment effects (as they're eloquently called) come from eating meals with too much fat. The unabsorbed excess fat is not harmful - but it will not go unnoticed. In fact, you may recognize it in the toilet as something that looks like the oil on top of a pizza. The treatment effects may include gas with oily spotting, loose stools, and more frequent stools that may be hard to control. Eating a low-fat diet with 15 grams of fat per meal on average can lower the chance of experiencing these treatment effects.

Final thoughts to consider: #1 - It doesn't require a prescription but it will cost you. Expect to pay between $65 and $75 per month for alli. #2 -- Users of alli must reduce the fat in their diets or else they will run the risk of the trots. Does this remind anybody of those fat free potato chips made with Olestra? The Diet Channel has an article, written by an MD, for more details on the first ever FDA approved over-the-counter weight loss product. Click to read the whole review.

Diabetes from plastic?

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A recent study done on mice gives a possible explanation for the increase in diabetes worldwide. In my post on June 14, I mentioned this study on the effects of plastic on insulin resistance. The researchers found that an ingredient in plastic, that mimics the effects of estrogen, can lead to insulin resistance in mice.

The study states this ingredient of plastic, bisphenol-A, is widely used in a variety of settings and that humans are exposed to this harmful ingredient on a regular basis. The fact that this leads to insulin resistance is scary. It is very frightening to think that exposure to everyday substances can lead to illnesses. Oh, wait! Exposure to harmful substances lead to illnesses every day. We are so used to hearing about these things that this is not truly scary, just mildly interesting.

It is up to us to be vigilant about what we put in our bodies and what we are exposed to. What makes this study interesting, is that bisphenol-A is found in such a wide array of products, which we can not completely avoid. It would be interesting to see further studies on this, as it is not conclusive, but I certainly will be more aware about my exposure to plastic.

'Diabulimics' dangerously drop pounds by skipping insulin

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Health experts are witnessing a dangerous trend among type 1 diabetic teens and young women -- they are running high blood sugars to spark weight loss. Not officially cited as a medical condition, 'diabulimia' is a relatively recent term coined to describe the rising numbers facing this compulsion. One expert studying 'diabulimia' estimated up to one-third (450,000) type 1 diabetics have intentionally short-changed or skipped insulin to yield weight loss.

Insulin delivers glucose to the body's cells. Without insulin, the body starves. Run high blood sugars and you lose weight fast. But the side effects are devastating. Ann Goebel-Fabbri, a clinical psychologist at Boston's Joslin Center for Diabetes, stated type 1 individuals with 'diabulimic' behavior experience severe diabetic complications earlier in life.

Warning signs for 'diabulimia' include changing eating habits, most likely exhibited by eating more, but still losing weight. Energy is low, blood sugar is high, and frequent urination results from the kidneys pumping furiously to rid the blood of extra glucose. The condition is potentially fatal. Some in the medical community believe the focus on food required to manage type 1 could lead some diabetics to develop an unhealthy relationship with food. Couple that with the pressure to be svelte in our crazy society, and type 1 diabetics are uniquely at risk.

Living with type 1 diabetes is hard enough. I shudder to think of 'diabulimics' facing retinopathy, amputations or kidney problems in their 20s and 30s -- the prime of life.

Diabulemia a disease manufactured by Big Pharma

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As Bev just pointed out, diabulimia is a serious condition when a type 1 diabetic is not taking their insulin in order to lose weight. Diabulimia is a term that has only cropped up in recent years. Most people who experience diabulemia are stuck between two fears: taking increasing doses of insulin, which leads to weight gain, and the damage the destructive behavior is causing their body in the long-term.

One expert who has studied the phenomenon estimates that 450,000 type 1 diabetic women in the United States - one-third of the total - have skipped or shortchanged their insulin to lose weight and are risking a coma and an early death. Ann Goebel-Fabbri, a clinical psychologist at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston says, "People who do this behavior wind up with severe diabetic complications much earlier". Is that supposed to be a warning or a promise? It sounds like she's saying complications are inevitable - but if you're contented with the weight gain - you'll deter the early arrival of complications. Poor advice, doc.

The caution of do as you're told and complications will arrive later is not a very promising guarantee. The behaviors of tight diabetes control are almost tantamount to cultivating eating disorders. Studies show that women with type 1 diabetes are twice as likely to develop an eating disorder. After all -- good diabetes management requires a preoccupation with food, counting carbohydrates and following a diet. Sounds like the ingredients for an eating disorder - throw in a hormonal imbalance (genetically modified insulin that arrives late to the brain, unlike natural vertebrate pork and cow insulin) and you've got yourself diabulemia. Thanks again, Big Pharma!! Where is the prize in good diabetes management if you are punished with weight gain?

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1970s Orinase scandal predates Avandia troubles

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In the Houston Chronicle, People's Pharmacy columnists Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon remember a drug scandal from 1970 that mirrors today's Avandia troubles almost exactly. Orinase, a popular diabetes drug was found to be increasing the very heart trouble it was designed (and marketed) to prevent.

Orinase's active ingredient is tolbutamide, a substance that stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin. According to the Graedons, the heart damage being caused by Orinase-takers was first revealed by the University Group Diabetes Program in 1970 following an extensive analysis of diabetes care in the US. Like the Avandia controversy, experts also debated the results of the University Group's conclusions on Orinase, yet it was more or less eventually accepted as fact that drugs belonging to the class sulfonylureas, including tolbutamide, do indeed increase the likelihood of heart problems. I say "more or less" because many authorities still hedge their bets. Example? The health site Drugs.com copies info on Orinase provided by Thomson Healthcare/Micromedix. According to that source, sulfonylureas, have been "reported, but not proven in all studies, to increase the risk of death from heart and blood vessel disease." [My emphasis.] This, thirty-seven years after the release of the study demonstrating such risk!

Orinase is still prescribed in certain situations. Is Avandia destined to end up sidelined, yet still on the market, like Orinase? Seems to be headed that way. In the meantime, the unfortunate reality is that new drugs will continue to be rushed to market and serious side effects discovered (or made public) only after they have been prescribed to thousands of people. The fact is, today's high-tech (and high-priced!) wonder drugs all come with a dose of risk.

Screen for depression in older adults with diabetes

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Depression is often underdiagnosed and untreated in the elderly population, and for those with diabetes mellitus, the risk is greater.

Researchers from the University of Florida in Gainesville found elevated depression among older diabetic adults in the Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) study published this month in Archives of Internal Medicine. Health ABC, a cohort study, examined community-dwelling 70 to 79-year-old adults living in Memphis and Pittsburgh. Participants reported no depression at baseline, and were assessed annually for an average of nearly six years.

Diabetes mellitus was associated with a 30% increased risk for depressed mood, and participants with poor glycemic control were associated with a 2-fold increased risk for recurrent depressive symptoms. Considering depression strongly impacts quality of life, and aging diabetics are at increased risk, researchers recommend screening for depression at the clinical level for early detection and proper treatment. To me, the study also reveals the importance of maintaining good glycemic control, as physical health and mental health are intertwined. Medscape offers a concise summary of the study.

Diabetes awareness: a long way to go in Chicago?

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Chicago has a long way to go when it comes to diabetes awareness amongst the general public, says pharmaceutical company Abbott. And if the picture in Chicago is representative of the nation as a whole, we should all be very concerned. Or should we? Yes, diabetes awareness - or lack thereof - is a problem. But is Abbott painting an overly pessimistic picture of the situation?

Abbott's comments about Chicago came as it announced the results of a poll sponsored to evaluate public understanding of diabetes in the city. The initiative was in preparation for the American Diabetes Association's Scientific Sessions, which begin June 22 in Chicago. (Abbott's North American home base is in Abbott Park, Illinois, near Chicago.)

Abbott's conclusion? Most people surveyed flunked out big-time when it came to basic facts like how diabetes affects the body and how the condition can be managed. The findings are as follows: twenty-eight percent of Chicagoans know little or nothing about diabetes, while thirty-five percent of non-diabetics say they are not prepared to manage diabetes should they themselves be diagnosed in the future. My view: the former is a problem, but at least it means a majority do know something about it. And what of the the latter (preparedness)? So what if many Average Joes say they're unprepared to deal with diabetes themselves. I'd bet very few people indeed would be prepared to manage a chronic condition with which they have not yet been diagnosed! Other findings portrayed by Abbott as problematic: twenty-three percent believe glucose monitoring involves pain, while eighteen percent believe diabetics cannot eat carbohydrates at all. Again, is the glass half empty or is it half full? Quite honestly, I'm pleasantly surprised that most of those polled know better. On the up-side, Abbott does acknowledge the good news that eighty-eight percent believe having diabetes does not necessarily preclude living a long and healthy life. Another factor to keep in mind: only five hundred people participated in the poll.

Bottom line: Abbott's press release paints an extremely, and I would say overly, dire picture of the situation. Yes, many people are still pretty darn ignorant about diabetes. They may not be able to write you an essay describing its exact cause or all the treatment options. However, most now grasp that it is a serious chronic condition. Is it hopelessly optimistic to believe that things can only get better from here?

Trisha Yearwood and stars sing with JDRF Children's Congress 2007 in D.C.

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The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF) Children's Congress 2007 is in full swing. 150 kid delegates with type 1 diabetes are lobbying legislators in Washington D.C. to support type 1 funding and research. A message the powerful in Congress need to hear.

Yesterday, excited delegates joined Grammy-award winners Trisha Yearwood and Steve Wariner, along with Elliott Yamin (American Idol) on the West Lawn to sing "Promise to Remember Me." Their sweet melody floated easily through the hot, humid air, delivering a message of hope and awareness to Capitol Hill. For the kids and families joining in song, I bet it was a "glass half full" kind of day.

I've been curious about this song since I posted on the event over a week ago. Thanks to an up-to-date blog on the Children's Congress 2007 website, you can click on a podcast and hear Trisha and crowd recorded live yesterday morning!

Held every two years since 1999, Children's Congress delegates meet face-to-face with Members of Congress to share what life is like with type 1 diabetes, and why research is critical. Select delegates are joining JDRF International Chairman, Mary Tyler Moore, this morning to knock on one very big door, the U.S. Senate, for a hearing on "JDRF and the Federal Government: A Model Public-Private Partnership Accelerating Research for a Cure."

Fatal gender gap: heart disease and diabetic women

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There's good news to be had in the world of diabetes, says researcher Dr. Deborah Burnet from the University of Chicago: fewer diabetic men are dying of heart disease than was the case three decades ago. The bad news is that the disease is killing more and more female diabetics. Specifically? Women with diabetes are four times more likely to suffer fatal heart attacks than are non-diabetics. This can be contrasted with diabetic men, who have double the risk.

Check out a new report published in today's Chicago Tribune for details on this disturbing trend. According to the Trib, there are multiple causes at work here, including the fact that women are getting heavier and more sedentary, making them more prone to both Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, while at the same time older women are making up a greater percentage of the overall population. Dr. Larry Deeb, president of the American Diabetes Association, says that the persistent perception of heart disease as a condition that affects men also continues to be harmful. For one thing, the perception may make women slower to seek treatment for heart problems. Once diagnosed with heart disease, says Dr. Deeb, women may also receive less intensive treatment than their male counterparts.

Worth repeating here are Dr. Deeb's awesome words of advice for women with diabetes: the onus is on you. "Don't accept that your blood sugar is 10 or 15 percent too high. Don't accept that your blood pressure is almost controlled. Don't accept that your cholesterol is almost low enough. You want your numbers to be as good as they can get." Wise words, doctor. And yet...women afflicted with the double whammy of diabetes and heart disease can't do it all alone. Social services, public education and attentive medical care are going to be critically important if we're going to reduce these horrible mortality rates.