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Americans Get Failing Grade on Diabetes Awareness
Date:11/2/2009

Survey finds abundant myths about debilitating disease

MONDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Though someone is diagnosed with diabetes every 20 seconds, many Americans lack basic knowledge about the potentially life-threatening disease, according to a new survey from the American Diabetes Association.

Diabetes is responsible for more deaths each year in the United States than breast cancer and AIDS combined, but just 42 percent of those surveyed knew that diabetes could be so deadly.

"There's a real lack of awareness of the seriousness of the disease," said Sue McLaughlin, president of Health Care and Education for the diabetes association. To combat that, the organization has launched a new campaign called Stop Diabetes to encourage people with diabetes to share their stories. The effort aims to increase awareness of the disease, fight the social stigma sometimes associated with it and get more people involved in the fight against diabetes.

Those who have the disease often say the lack of awareness can feel like a lack of support.

"Living with diabetes every day is a struggle, and people don't always understand what you go through every day," said Malika Bey of Pittsburgh. Bey was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during two pregnancies, and then with type 2 diabetes after her last pregnancy.

"It would help if family members were more supportive," she said. "You know, I can't eat everything I want to eat, and at a party, nobody thinks about something simple, like getting diet drinks."

McLaughlin said a common myth is that sugar and overeating cause diabetes. But, that's not true for either type of diabetes. Diet isn't a factor at all in type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease in which the body mistakenly attacks the islet cells in the pancreas, destroying the body's ability to produce insulin. And, though type 2 diabetes is more common in people who are overweight, genetics and othe
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