A diabetes epidemic is ravaging our population, particularly communities of color, and we’re told it’s because of obesity and poor lifestyle choices. Here’s why that’s wrong. Action Alert!
Diabetes affects more than 10 percent of the US population, while one-third of Americans are estimated to have pre-diabetes (which can lead to type 2 diabetes). The conventional wisdom is that an increase in obesity and poor diet choices are the main causes, but there is much more to the story. Current treatment options are expensive and dangerous, but federal rules prevent us from unleashing the power of natural medicine on this epidemic of diabetes.
Emerging research we covered previously is pointing to a major cause of diabetes that has for the most part gone completely unnoticed and unrecognized: chemical exposures. Research has shown that obese people in the bottom 10% of toxin load do not have an increased risk of diabetes, while 30% of lean people with a high toxin load will develop diabetes. Research is also indicating that environmental toxins are causing obesity.
Another lesser-known cause is hypothyroidism. One study found adults in the lowest third of thyroid function levels were 1.4 times more likely to progress from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes than those in the highest third of thyroid function. About 1 out of 20 Americans above the age of 12 have hypothyroidism.
Diabetes disproportionately affects communities of color. Consider the demographic breakdown of the disease:
- 7.5% of non-Hispanic white people;
- 11.7% of non-Hispanic black people;
- 12.5% of Hispanic people;
- 9.2% of Asian American people;
- And 14.7% of American Indians/Alaskan Native people.
Millions of us are at risk for developing diabetes, and not just obese people. What can be done about it?
Drugs are widely prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes, but can be very dangerous. A meta-analysis of 13 RCTs (random clinical trials) found that glucose-lowering drugs increased patients’ risk of death from all causes, including a 43 percent increase in cardiovascular mortality.
Avandia, a type 2 diabetes drug, was found to increase the risk of heart attack and cardiovascular death. Another drug in Avandia’s class, Rezulin, was pulled from the market for causing serious liver toxicity. Metformin, one of the most common diabetes drugs, has a decent safety profile but is not without side effects, including serious ones such as vitamin B12 deficiency, which can cause anemia, nerve problems, and cognitive impairment.
Meanwhile, the data on natural alternatives to these dangerous and expensive medications is extremely compelling:
- Chromium has been shown to reduce insulin resistance and lowers some of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
- Inositol is another effective natural medicine for improving glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. One study comparing metformin and inositol in insulin-resistant women found no significant differences between the two study groups.
- 4000 IU/day vitamin D was found to reduce progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes.
- One study found that early intervention with nutrition and lifestyle prevents diabetes more effectively than the leading prescription drug (metformin).
All of these options are safer and less expensive than pharmaceutical alternatives. The average cost for 60 capsules at 500 mg of generic metformin is $20. For $13.95, 200 capsules at 500 mg of inositol are available. Sixty tablets of Avandia cost $248 on average. That means that inositol is about 4 times cheaper than metformin and almost 60 times less expensive than Avandia. When $51.5 billion is spent on diabetes drugs, imagine the savings from switching to natural medicine!
Sadly, you aren’t allowed to learn about these benefits. Only FDA-approved drugs can claim to treat, prevent, or mitigate a disease. To get FDA approval means spending millions upon millions of dollars on randomized controlled trials. These costs can be recouped by drug companies because their products are patent-protected. Natural products like supplements cannot be strongly patented, making it impossible for a company to recoup the costs of FDA-approval.
Natural medicine could make us healthier and happier, but in order for that to happen we need reforms that allow the free flow of information about the benefits of these products.
Action Alert! Write to Congress, urging them to support our legislation to allow the free flow of information about the benefits of supplements and other natural products. Please send your message immediately.