Diabetes is having a devastating effect on the African American community. Diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death in African Americans and their death rates are twenty seven percent higher than whites.
Over 2.8 million African Americans have diabetes and one third of them don’t know they have the disease. In addition, twenty five percent of African Americans between the ages of 65 – 74 have diabetes and one in four African American women, over the age of 55, have been diagnosed with the disease
The cause of diabetes is a mystery, but researchers believe that both genetics and environmental factors play roles in who will develop the disease.
Researchers believe that African Americans and African Immigrants are predisposed to developing diabetes. Research suggests that African Americans and recent African immigrants have inherited a “thrifty gene” from their African ancestors.
This gene may have enabled Africans to use food energy more efficiently during cycles of feast and famine. Now, with fewer cycles of feast and famine, this gene may make weight control more difficult for African Americans and African Immigrants.
This genetic predisposition, coupled with impaired glucose tolerance, is often associated with the genetic tendency toward high blood pressure. People with impaired glucose tolerance have higher than normal blood glucose levels and are at a higher risk for developing diabetes.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes, commonly know as “sugar diabetes”, is a condition that occurs when the body is unable to properly produce or use insulin. Insulin is needed by the body to process sugar, starches and other foods into energy. Diabetes is a chronic condition for which there is no known cure; diabetes is a serious disease and should not be ignored.
Diabetics often suffer from low glucose Glucofort levels (sugar) in their blood. Low blood sugar levels can make you disorientated, dizzy, sweaty, hungry, have headaches, have sudden mood swings, have difficulty paying attention, or have tingling sensations around the mouth.
Types of Diabetes
Pre-diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels is higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type II diabetes. Pre-diabetes can cause damage to the heart and circulatory system, but pre-diabetes can often be controlled by controlling blood glucose levels. By controlling pre-diabetes you can often prevent or delay the onset of Type II diabetes.
Type I or juvenile-onset diabetes usually strikes people under the age of 20, but can strike at any age. Five to ten percent of African Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes are diagnosed with this type of the disease. Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body produces little or no insulin and this type of diabetes must be treated with daily insulin injections.
Type II or adult onset diabetes is responsible for ninety to ninety-five percent of diagnosed diabetes cases in African Americans. Type II results from a condition where the body fails to properly use insulin. According to the American Diabetes Association, “Type II is usually found in people over 45, who have diabetes in their family, who are overweight, who don’t exercise and who have cholesterol problems.” In the early stages it can often be controlled with lifestyle changes, but in the later stages diabetic pills or insulin injections are often needed.
Pregnancy related diabetes or gestational diabetes can occur in pregnant women. Gestational diabetes is often associated with high glucose blood levels or hyperglycemia. Gestational diabetes affects about four percent of all pregnant women. The disease usually goes away after delivery, but women who suffer from gestational diabetes are at a higher risk for developing diab