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Congress Must Fund Diabetes Research and Education Now

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Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in this country. In the past months and years, there have been outcries for help in funding research. Congress has not become fully active in the fight to find a cure for this disease even with diabetes costing this country billions of dollars in healthcare costs and affecting tens of millions of people.

There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. With diabetes, a person 's blood sugar rises to dangerous levels and causes numerous health problems. Both types do not have a cure. Type 1 is caused by a gland in the pancreas that no longer makes insulin because the immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells. Sugar then builds up in the blood causing internal damage while the cells starve. In type 2 diabetes, the body can make insulin but the cells cannot properly use it. A child that is found to have type 2 diabetes at age 10 will see his or her life shortened by 19 years according to a government estimate.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are more than 20 million people with diabetes living in the United States, which is estimated to be 7% of this nation 's population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) feels there are 41 million more people who are pre-diabetic; their blood sugar is high and without changing their lifestyle, they will ultimately become diabetic. In a recent article in the New York Times, a CDC doctor said that within a 24-hour period, there will be 1,400 newly diagnosed cases of diabetes, 55 people will go blind, 230 will have amputations, and 120 will enter end-stage kidney disease programs ... all because of diabetes.

As noted in a recent CDC report, 1 of every 3 babies born in the United States as of 2000, will be diagnosed with diabetes in their lifetime, and a more shocking statistic, 1 of every 2 Hispanic babies will be diagnosed with diabetes in the course of their life.

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All types of cancer cost the United States a combined $171 billion in healthcare costs. However, diabetes costs $132 billion. According to the Cato Research Institute, healthcare for a person with diabetes but without complications costs an estimated $1,600 a year in diabetes-related expenditures, but that cost can and will go up if any related ailments cause problems. Some examples of how that cost skyrockets are an estimated $30,400 for a heart attack or amputation, more than $40,000 for a stroke, and an estimated $37,000 for end stage kidney disease.

Congress has not seen the warning signs that diabetes has grown into epidemic proportions. There have been numerous ways that Congress could have been much more active by securing more funding for CDC research and fully funding diabetes education and prevention programs. Sadly, it did not seize the opportunity to do so.

I find it outrageous that this past Congress did not fully fund prevention programs and has only dedicated $300,000 for such programs while choosing to make cuts in the CDC and National Institutes of Health (NIH) budgets for useful prevention and education. They chose to slash the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriation Act for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, which is part of the NIH research division, by $9 million compared with last year.

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People with diabetes need a strong education that is fully funded so they can properly handle their disease. Congress should also fully fund a prevention program that in the short term may cost some money, but, in the long run, will save this country millions if not billions of dollars in healthcare costs. I would strongly encourage Congress to listen and respond to the outcry of its constituents to find a cure for this horrific disease by dedicating more funding for research, education, and prevention.


Sean Hughes, is a Type 1 Diabetic and the founder of the Diabetic Food Critic, LLC. www.diabeticfoodcritic.com
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Sean Hughes, is a Type 1 Diabetic and the founder and Head Critic of the Diabetic Food Critic, LLC. www.diabeticfoodcritic.com

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Congress Must Fund Diabetes Research and Education Now