US Puerto Ricans and Mexicans at much greater risk for diabetes

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    Approximately 3.7 million Hispanics are diagnosed with diabetes and hundreds of thousands more don’t know they have it.

    Photo by Bobby Flowers | Dreamstime

    Puerto Ricans and Mexicans are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-Hispanic whites as well as more likely to die from it, according to the Office of Minority Health (OMH) latest statistics combined with the US Census 2010 Community Survey.

    If you are Latino, the likelihood that you will develop diabetes is truly alarming. The risk factor compared to white non-Hispanics is 67 percent higher, but an even greater risk exists for Puerto Ricans and Mexicans at 94 percent and 87 percent respectively.

    For pregnant women, the risk for birth defects is four times greater if they have type II diabetes. Birth defects such as congenital heart disease and spina bifida and the likelihood of miscarriage are increased dramatically according to the latest research published in Diabetologia Journal, which backs up earlier studies on diabetes impact on the fetus.

    Type II diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. Many do not realize the seriousness of this disease and the fact that there is no cure for it.

    “ …The risk for death among people with diabetes is about twice that of people of similar age but without diabetes,” reported the CDC. The outcome for those with diabetes is deadly, but entirely preventable.

    What is diabetes exactly?

    Type II diabetes is the most common form of diabetes accounting for most diagnoses of the disease. It usually starts when our cells are no longer able to use insulin properly. Insulin is needed to help the body metabolize sugar and move it into the cells, which in turn gives us energy. When the sugar is unable to move into our cells, it builds up in our blood, which is called hyperglycemia. This in turn, over time, will lead to diabetes.

    Losing weight, even 10 to 15 pounds can make a difference, according to The American Diabetes Association. They recommend what has worked for people who have lost weight and kept it off: cutting back calories, engaging in physical activity most days of the week, eating breakfast every day, and keeping a record of your weight and activity.

    Physical exercise is one of the best preventive measures we can take to stay healthy. It helps to control blood glucose, blood pressure, and keeps cholesterol on target. It lowers risk for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. It relieves stress, strengthens our heart, muscles and bones, improves circulation and tones muscles, and keeps our body and joints flexible.

    Exercise improves balance and coordination, helps lose weight and can even help with self-esteem according to the Mayo Clinic. Physical exercise can even improve our memory and ability to learn, according to research commented on in the New York Times last November.

    Type II diabetes is entirely preventable – do something now if you are at risk.


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