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Life Expectancy Improves for Type 1 Diabetics
Date:6/27/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

SATURDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- Advances in diabetes care have nearly eliminated the difference in life expectancy between people with type 1 diabetes and the general population, according to new research.

Life expectancy at birth for someone diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1965 and 1980 was estimated to be 68.8 years compared to 72.4 years for the general population. But, for someone diagnosed with type 1 diabetes between 1950 and 1964 the estimated life expectancy at birth was just 53.4 years.

"The outlook for someone with type 1 diabetes can be wonderful," said the study's senior author, Dr. Trevor Orchard, professor of epidemiology, medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Orchard said that more recent improvements in diabetes care will make the outlook even brighter for people diagnosed more recently.

"We'll see further improvements in life expectancy compared to the general population," he said.

Results of the new study are scheduled to be presented on Saturday at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting in San Diego.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means the body's immune system mistakenly sees healthy cells as foreign invaders, such as a virus. In type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone necessary for your body to use carbohydrates as fuel. Once these cells are destroyed, the body can no longer produce insulin. People with type 1 diabetes must replace the lost insulin through injections or an insulin pump or they would get very ill and could even die.

But, estimating the right amount of insulin you might need isn't an easy task. Too little insulin, and the blood sugar levels go too high. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage many parts of the body, including the kidneys and the eyes. But i
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