How do you instantly give millions of people diabetes? It's simple. Change its definition. In 1997, experts from the American Diabetes Association lowered the definition of type-2 diabetes. Overnight, nearly two million more Americans had the disease.
The same thing happened again in 2003, with one major difference: This time, it affected over 25 million more people in the U.S. alone. All of these patients were suddenly candidates for drugs if diet and exercise didn't work.
The bad news is, in the majority of people who are taking medications for their type-2 diabetes, the drugs don't work! To make matters worse, people have a tendency to rest their hopes on a pill rather than making difficult lifestyle changes to improve their diet and exercise habits. The result is the condition continues to get worse.
So why are we bothering with these drugs? Obviously, there's a financial incentive. Last year alone, pharmaceutical companies sold over $23 billion in diabetes drugs. But the pharmaceutical companies aren't the only ones making loads of money. There are also the doctors who make millions working as consultants, speakers, and advisors to the pharmaceutical companies.
If the drugs simply had no effects, this wouldn't be quite so bad. But many of these new, FDA-approved drugs can cause serious side effects, including heart problems, cancer, and overdoses. None of these drugs can cure diabetes, as we don't yet know how to do that with medications, only how to control it. So the drugs focus on lowering blood sugar, some wreaking havoc along the way. In fact, these drugs have contributed to an estimated 100,000 ER visits per year, as people who have overdosed fight dangerously low blood sugar. These drugs were identified as the "primary suspect" in the deaths of 3,300 patients and 20,000 hospitalizations since 2004.
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As a result of cardiovascular issues associated with some of the drugs, the FDA did begin requiring companies to do follow-up testing. But the drugs didn't have to improve heart health. They didn't even have to be neutral. They just had to not increase the risk of heart issues by more than 1.3 times. That doesn't sound safe to me, especially since heart disease is ultimately responsible for the deaths of up to 80% of people with type-2 diabetes!
While these drugs may lower blood sugar, that doesn't seem to be making a difference. From 2004 to 2013, 30 new diabetes drugs came to the market. But according to an investigation by MedPage Today and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, not one of them had a beneficial effect on the negative effects of diabetes, such as heart attacks, strokes, and blindness. Just because these drugs treat the symptoms of diabetes — high blood sugar — doesn't mean they're treating the disease itself.
The answer to the diabetes epidemic isn't drugs. Cases of this disease have risen not only as the definition of the disease itself has changed, but also as the population has become more sedentary and obese. The solution must be diet and exercise. This is a much better and safer way to control your blood sugar than dangerous drugs. Talk to your doctor about the right program for you. Don't stop taking your drugs without your doctor's supervision. If your doctor isn't willing to work with you to try to get you off the medication, you may want to work with someone else. You also can try Metabolic Defense to regulate your blood sugar. It's safe, natural, and won't send you to the ER.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand