Diabetes

Broadcast:

Story Details

"Its the constant thought thats required, you have to monitor your exercise, you have to monitor your insulin, you have to do the blood tests which are awful" says Deidre.

Deidre Potter knows what its like to live with diabetes. She's suffered from type one since the age of 10. Insulin injections four times a day and the odd hypoglycaemic attack, when her body goes into meltdown because of very low blood sugar levels. Her 8 year old son, Tim, has a 50 percent chance of getting diabetes type one.

One and a half million people suffer from diabetes yet half of them don't even know they've got it. But remember there's two types of diabetes; type one or juvenile diabetes hits during childhood. Its an auto immune disease where cells attack the pancreas which then stops making insulin. Type two is linked to obesity and is the most common. It starts with an over production of insulin, so the pancreas burns out and then there's not enough insulin in the body.

Professor Kim Donaghue is Head of the Diabetes Service at Westmead Children's Hospital. She's part of a national five year trial of a intranasal insulin spray, hoped to prevent type one diabetes in children at high risk of getting the disease.

Professor Donaghue says "the children involved in this study already have signs the immune process has been turned on, with this vaccine we hope to turn that process off so that the immune cells fighting the pancreas will stop fighting. Which will just be a wonderful outcome the child wont develop diabetes."

Another trial this time focused on type two diabetes. Professor Peter Eberling from Melbourne's Western Hospital is trying to prove that vitamin D deficiency can (along with other factors like obesity), cause type two diabetes.

"When you have a lack of vitamin D we think that that increases the resistance to the actions of insulin which can result in diabetes" he says. "There are lots of genes potentially associated with diabetes we're wondering whether some of those genes could be affected by low vitamin D levels and turned on."

Diabetes continued´┐Ż

But how do you know if you are at high risk. Well there's now a diabetes risk screening tool. Professor David Dunstan is from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute.

"You can start to identify the key risk factors that contribute the risk these include age, sex, ethnicity, family history of diabetes, whether you've had gestational diabetes and also lifestyle factors like physical activities, diet and overweight."

After crunching your personal details it gives you a score, the higher the number, the more likely you will get diabetes.

"We would actively encourage everyone to try this score´┐Ż because if you can intervene early we can then look to preventing the onset of diabetes in the future" says Prof Dunstan.

And here's another type two diabetes prevention tactic trying to be proven. Exercising to prevent diabetes is nothing new but this study is trying to prove short bursts of exercise helps decrease your chances of getting diabetes.

"People who are sitting for prolonged periods or engaged in a lot of sedentary behaviour have a higher risk of elevated blood glucose levels, elevated waist circumference as compared to those who are sitting less, this occurs irrespective of whether you were engaged in regular physical activity" says Prof Dunstan.

The trial involves getting people at risk or in the early stages of diabetes to get up every 20 mins and leisurely walk for two minutes.

"We know regular movement and muscle contraction is good for blood glucose uptake, if we can get people up off their seat and moving more, it could lead to better diabetes outcomes or prevention outcomes" adds Prof Dunstan.

For anyone interested in participating in the National Intranasal trial please call 1300 138 712 or go to www.stopdiabetes.com.au

If anyone would like to participate in Melbourne's Western Hospital trial on Vitamin D Deficiency please email cgagnon@unimelb.edu.au

For those interested in participating in the sedentary trial at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne please email m.clayfield@alfred.org.aul

Share