In recognition of November as Diabetes Awareness Month, State Senator Jose M. Serrano (D- Bronx/Manhattan) today encouraged New Yorkers to learn the risk factors and early symptoms associated with a debilitating disease that affects millions of Americans, though authorities estimate that about one in three cases goes undiagnosed.
"Given the condition’s enormous impact, we should probably make every month diabetes awareness month," said Senator Serrano. "I want New York City residents to understand just how devastating an undiagnosed and untreated case of diabetes can become."
Consider these facts from the American Diabetes Association:
Nearly 21 million children and adults in the United States are living with diabetes.
More than six million of them, or roughly a third, don't know they have the disease.
Diabetes is the fifth-deadliest disease in the United States.
Compared to the general population, African-Americans are disproportionately affected by diabetes: 3.2 million or 13.3% of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diabetes.
If the current trend continues, one out of two minorities born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.
Some types of diabetes can be delayed or prevented by simple lifestyle changes.
Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a
hormone that converts sugar and other food into energy. The cause of diabetes is not thoroughly understood, although genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.
"With such a silent, pervasive illness, it’s better to catch it early on rather than let it reek havoc unknowingly," Senator Serrano said. "Awareness and education are key elements in the fight against diabetes. Healthy eating and increased physical activity can delay – or possibly prevent – diabetes and its complications."
Everyone with diabetes is at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause
of vision loss in adults, experts say. However, early detection of diabetes and timely treatment can significantly reduce the risk of blindness.
In honor of Diabetes Awareness Month, Eyecare America, a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, encourages people age 65 and older to take advantage of its Diabetes Eyecare Program, a year-round program that offers eye exams and up to one year of care at no out-of-pocket cost to qualified patients. For more information or a referral to one of 7,200 volunteer ophthalmologists, call the toll-free hotline at 1-800-272-3937.
"November is a month to reflect on the all the implications of this serious disease, which may spur many of us into action," Senator Serrano concluded. "We all know someone with diabetes– a family member, neighbor or friend. I encourage all my constituents to face diabetes head-on by getting informed and making healthy lifestyle choices."