The Disease That Needs Year-Round Awareness
November marks American Diabetes Month; however, diabetes is a serious health issue that Americans should make an everyday reality. Out of all the adults in the United States who have diabetes, a staggering number are unaware that they have the condition. Prediabetes, a condition in which the body starts becoming insulin-resistant, is so common that 9 out of 10 American adults are not even aware that they have the disease. Raising awareness about diabetes is not just an issue to focus on one month per year; Americans need more awareness year-round.
How is the condition worse for women?
About 15 million women in the United States suffer from diabetes. Diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and pregnancy complications. In fact, women with diabetes are at a higher risk for depression and diabetes-related blindness than men with diabetes. If a woman has diabetes, her risk of heart disease increases by four times; men with diabetes only increase their risk by two times. Because of the significant consequences, diabetes can cause if left untreated, women need to be vigilant about getting screened and about managing their diagnosed diabetes.
The significant lifestyle change that prevents diabetes
More than one in three Americans struggle with obesity. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that almost half of Americans also struggle with diabetes or prediabetes, since obesity is one of the leading causes of type 2 diabetes. While managing weight can be difficult, it’s extremely important. Research has shown that even a 5-10% reduction in body weight can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 58%. Women can lower their chances of developing diabetes by exercising regularly, eating a balanced, nutritious diet, and maintaining a healthy weight. While not the only measurement, body mass index (BMI) can be a guideline to understanding whether or not a person’s weight is in a healthy range.
A type of prediabetes only affecting women
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the number one cause of infertility in women of childbearing age, and it also has been linked to diabetes. In fact, women with PCOS experience insulin resistance that is so similar to the insulin resistance of type 2 diabetes that PCOS has been called a form of prediabetes. Like prediabetes, however, women can strive to counteract its negative effects by exercising regularly and following a healthy diet. Bottom line: even though PCOS can put women at higher risk of diabetes, the same lifestyle changes that improve diabetes can improve PCOS symptoms and put women at an all-around lower diabetes risk.