What Diabetes Does To Your Body

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Type 2 diabetes strikes people of all ages, and early symptoms are subtle. In fact, about one out of three people with type 2 diabetes don’t know they have it.

This chronic condition thwarts the body’s ability to use the carbohydrates in food for energy. The result is elevated blood sugar. Over time, this excess sugar raises the risk for heart disease, loss of vision, nerve and organ damage, and other serious conditions.

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Signs of diabetes

When undiagnosed or uncontrolled, the effects of diabetes on the body can be noticed by the classic symptoms of diabetes, namely:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision and
  • Tingling or pain in the hands, feet and/or legs.

Long term effects of diabetes on the body

In addition to the symptoms, diabetes can cause long term damage to our body.

The long term damage is commonly referred to as diabetic complications.

Diabetes affects our blood vessels and nerves and therefore can affect any part of the body.

However, certain parts of our body are affected more than other parts.

Diabetic complications will usually take a number of years of poorly controlled diabetes to develop. Complications are not a certainty and can be kept at bay and prevented by maintaining a strong level of control on your diabetes, your blood pressure and cholesterol.

These can all be helped by keeping to a healthy diet, avoiding cigarettes and alcohol, and incorporating regular activity into your daily regime in order to keep blood sugar levels within recommended blood glucose level guidelines.

The effect of diabetes on the heart

Diabetes and coronary heart disease are closely related.

Diabetes contributes to high blood pressure and is linked with high cholesterol which significantly increases the risk of heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.

Diabetes and strokes

Similar to how diabetes affects the heart, high blood pressure and cholesterol raises the risk of strokes.

How diabetes effects the eyes

A relatively common complication of diabetes is diabetic retinopathy. As with all complications, this condition is brought on by a number of years of poorly controlled or uncontrolled diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy has a number of symptoms.

Retinopathy is caused by blood vessels in the back of the eye (the retina) swelling and leaking. High blood pressure is also a contributing factor for diabetic retinopathy.

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Study: People With Diabetes Have Increased Cancer Risks

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People with diabetes are at higher risk for certain cancers than those without the blood sugar disease, including colon and pancreatic cancer for men and breast cancer for women, according to a US study.

Based on a telephone survey of nearly 400,000 adults, the study — whose findings appear in the study Diabetes Care, found that 16 out of every 100 diabetic men and 17 out of every 100 diabetic women said they had cancer.

That compares to 7 per 100 men and 10 per 100 women without diabetes.

“The significant association between cancer and diabetes does not surprise us,” said Chaoyang Li, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, George, the lead author.

What Types Of Cancers Are Diabetics Most Susceptible To?

Li said that other studies have also found a link between diabetes and cancer, although there is no proof that one causes the other. After taking into account things such as age, race, smoking and drinking habits, the researchers concluded that diabetic men and women were 10% more likely to have had a cancer diagnosis of any kind.

Women: Diabetic women had more cases of breast cancer, leukemia or a type of uterine cancer. In particular, women’s risk of leukemia rose sharply – one per 1,000 women without diabetes said they had been diagnosed with the blood cancer, compared to three per 1,000 women with diabetes.

Men: Compared to people without diabetes, diabetic men were more likely to report having colon, pancreas, rectum, urinary bladder, kidney or prostate cancer. The greatest increase in risk was for pancreatic cancer, with 16 per 10,000 cases among diabetics and just two per 10,000 among non-diabetics. — a four-fold difference after other factors are taken into consideration.

“It shows there’s a substantial pool of American adults who have diabetes and cancer,” said Fred Brancati, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. “The authors rightly point out that these two conditions go together beyond chance alone, so it pays to think about them together.”

Brancati’s own research has shown that the risk of death from cancer among diabetics is about 40% higher than among non-diabetics.

Li said it’s still unclear why diabetes is tied to cancer. High blood sugar levels or excess blood insulin — a hormone that helps ferry sugar into the cells — might increase the risk, but that has not been proven.