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Diabetes Rising: How a Rare Disease Became a Modern Pandemic, and What to Do About It Hardcover – January 5, 2010
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The good news about being a professional science journalist with type 1 diabetes is that you can devote 100 percent of your time to researching its history and the evolution of its diagnosis and treatment. Your credentials also give you entrée into the bosom of up-to-the-moment research in the field. The even better news about being such a journalist is that you can write a fascinating, informative book from which people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes and their loved ones (it is so widespread as to affect the lives of countless people, whether they have diabetes or know someone who does) can be informed of the latest theories about causes, treatments, and potential cures. Ideas about causes are all over the map, ranging from cow’s milk to insufficient sunshine. Treatments are vastly improved and getting better everyday; Hurley even submitted to the all-too-brief experience of being symptom-free while he was hooked up to an artificial pancreas. And cures? Well, read the book. --Donna Chavez
“An important work...Well written, weaving personal stories, interviews with lead scientific researchers, and historical reviews to create an easy-to-read, complete look at the epidemic of diabetes.” —Journal of the American Medical Association
""Diabetes Rising takes on the fastest-growing disease in history with a take-no-prisoner’s attitude. You got to love the author’s pugnacity. Dan Hurley takes the same approach to diabetes that Ronald Reagan took on the Cold War. Not willing to live with the enemy, he wants to kill it in its crib."" —Chris Matthews, Host of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews
""...the real zingers in Hurley’s account are the variety of new studies he reports in connection with the astonishing increase in overt or potential diabetes in nearly 25 percent of the world’s adult population."" — Kirkus Reviews
""Books offering advice on living with diabetes are legion. Hurley provides instead a compelling layperson’s overview of diabetes research enlivened by multiple interviews with scientists in the field. Diabetics and those who love them will find this a fascinating and hope-filled read."" — Library Journal, starred review
...""fascinating, informative book…"" — Booklist
""Few people are more qualified to write this medical mystery story. An award-winning journalist for medical publications and the New York Times, Hurley has been matching wits with the killer for thirty years inside his own body—he developed type I diabetes in 1975, and his description of his last supper as a non-diabetic on Thanksgiving is harrowing. One of the many strengths of this book, in fact, is Hurley’s ability to juxtapose masses of historical medical information with highly personal stories, his own and those of others, which give a human face to this impersonal killer. We want a cure for diabetes, not just for mankind, but for Hurley and his young daughter."" — Foreword
""Diabetes Rising is very well written and is a must-have for families living with type 1 diabetes. Highly Recommended."" — ChildrenwithDiabetes.com
""This is a stunning book about diabetes. For patients, family members, physicians, and those simply interested in learning more about a disease so closely linked to the rise of modern civilization, Diabetes Rising offers not just a thorough background, but the hint of an 'out of the box' approach to how we can treat and prevent diabetes."" — from the foreword by Zachary T. Bloomgarden, M.D., Editor, Journal of Diabetes
""With engaging style, Dan Hurley uses the tools of investigational journalism to ask the question millions affected by diabetes ask themselves every day: 'Why can’t we cure and prevent this devastating disease?' Diabetes Rising challenges conventional wisdom in search of pioneering scientific approaches to achieve a world without diabetes."" — S. Robert Levine, M.D., Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Board of Chancellors
""Dan Hurley has created a superb framework for understanding diabetes today and the profound challenges that face anyone affected by it. In crisp, vivid prose, Hurley offers unerring insight on what we live with. Essential reading!"" — Kelly L. Close, editor in chief, diaTribe
""We are increasingly living in a diabetic nation, and Dan Hurley provides a durable framework for understanding what that means -- the potent forces driving the epidemic, the deep impact on individual lives, and the possible solutions that can turn the tide."" — James S. Hirsch, author of Cheating Destiny: Living with Diabetes
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Much of the information in this book will be at least somewhat familiar to those who follow the disease. Very few people, however, will be familiar with all of it. For those who don't deal with diabetes on a daily basis, this book is a great way to gain some insight. Many of the quotes and experiences bear vivid witness to what diabetics have to endure, from the description of diabetes as "the baby that never stops crying" to the hypoglycemic episode described by the author where his nine year old daughter had to spoon Marshmallow Fluff down his throat. One diabetic woman who attended and worked at the Clara Barton diabetes camp for girls states that she believes "that there is something about being a teenage girl and having diabetes that just makes life infinitely more difficult. Most of the girls I know who've had diabetes through puberty have really struggled with some form of depression, anxiety, even self-mutilation or diabulimia." (Note: diabulimia is the practice of not taking as much insulin as needed. This leads to weight loss - hence the bulimia reference - but it also leads to high levels of glucose in the blood that can cause death in the short term or significant complications in the long term.)
Mr. Hurley's discussion of the potential causes of and solutions to the diabetes epidemic in Parts Two and Three are interesting and thought-provoking. The diabetes world is one that is rife with hype, but at no time did I feel like the author was overstating the evidence or drawing conclusions too broadly. In fact, he takes pains to present the evidence on both sides of each issue. My one disappointment with the book was the conclusion. I was expecting a major call to action with detailed recommendations. Instead, his wrap up was just over two pages long. In it, he calls for mandatory reporting of new cases so that they may be better tracked and an end to the bureaucratic dithering by the FDA and medical device companies that has delayed the introduction of better technology to manage blood glucose levels (namely the "artificial pancreas" that can be built by integrating existing technology). While he doesn't come right out and say it, he clearly feels that the ADA has failed to be an effective advocate for diabetics and so calls for a new advocacy group. The author asks why none of America's 23 million people with diabetes are demanding a federal investigation into the rising number of cases and agitating for a cure. The answer is probably that not many people know where even to start. After doing all of the work of researching and writing his excellent book, Mr. Hurley probably has as good an idea as anyone about what is needed, but it would take more than two pages to describe it.
The desire for a more fully fleshed out action plan aside, this is a great book and well worth reading. The implications of the diabetes epidemic are profound. Even if you and your loved ones manage to avoid developing it, you will feel its effects indirectly. The United States and most other major countries in the world will find more and more public policy decisions driven by the need to treat millions of people suffering from this chronic disease at great expense. The cost components to the health insurance debate currently taking place in the United States are early indicators of this unavoidable fact. If you don't know much about diabetes, you don't know much about where a big chunk of the economy is heading. I haven't come across a better way to get up to speed on diabetes, let alone to get smart quickly, than by reading this book.
Hurley follows the lead of Michael Bliss in denigrating Fredrick Banting who, while not the learned professor that MacLeod was, had the vision to try a new tack in the search for a cure. There are other versions of the story that give Banting far more credit. Still, the history is all good. The most intersting part for me is where he gets into the mechanism for the disease, the "accelerator hypothesis" and the "cow's milk hypothesis" and the others. They are very interesting and may hold clues to treatment and prevention. There have been other studies, one for example, with prediabetic pregnant women in which frank diabetes may have been prevented.
The environmental pathogen theory has been so overdone in other books on other subjects that it doesn't hold much interest (Dioxin, for example, is mostly hype) but most of his theories are very interesting. The "Hygiene hypothesis" is very interesting and has been a major thread in research on asthma, another disease of cleanliness. Much of this began with the story of polio which really was a disease of cleanliness. All the way back in the 1960s, it was discovered that slum children in Mexico City all had antibodies to polio viruses but there was very little paralytic polio. Like some other viral diseases, polio was relatively harmless in early childhood but deadly in the young adult. He writes about the use of intestinal parasites, like hookworm, which have become of great interest in many autoimmune diseases the past few years. Even schizophrenia may have a worm connection.
He goes on to the various prospects for cures and explains some of the problems that beset diabetes therapy. He has several sections on the latest in potentially curative treatment, including islet cell transplant and the artificial pancreas. A short section on the use of microballoons with insulin is very interesting and I wish there was more about it. All in all, this is an excellent book for the educated layperson or the physician. Since most diabetics know more about their disease than their doctors do, every diabetic should read this book. It is highly recommended.