Diabetes A Growing Health Concern

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Diabetes has become an epidemic, affecting about twenty-one million Americans. Yet more than six million of them—perhaps you or someone in your fam-ily—don't know they have it! And nearly one million more each year are predicted to get it.

In 2005 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Diabetes Association estimated that about 41 million Americans ages 40 to 74 have pre-diabetes, which sharply raises the risk for developing type 2 diabetes and increases the risk of heart disease by 50 percent. Most people with pre-diabetes are apt to develop diabetes within a decade unless they make modest changes in both their food choices and their physical activity level.

If it's not managed properly, diabetes can have serious, even life-threatening, effects on health: eye problems including blindness, circulatory problems, nerve disease, and kidney disease and failure, among others. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, leg and foot amputations, and kidney disease, and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes also is a major risk factor for heart attacks and stroke. Damage can add up. Even during pre-diabetes, some long-term damage, especially to the heart and circulatory system, may occur. The best way to reduce the risks for these problems is to keep your blood sugar level near the normal range.

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