11% of population could have diabetes and not know it

MORE than one in 10 of the Irish population could have diabetes and not know it, a study suggests.

About 8,800 people in Dublin and Cork were involved in a screening project into the incidence of diabetes.

Of those screened, 11% tested positive for diabetes and pre-diabetes – a condition where a body’s cells are becoming insulin resistant and blood glucose levels are higher than they should be.

VHI Healthcare, which conducted the screening project, said the figures suggested that there could be 30,000 people aged 45-75 years with undiagnosed diabetes and 122,000 with pre-diabetes.

Since the project got under way 18 months ago new, undiagnosed, diabetes was confirmed in more than 190 (2.2%) participants, with pre-diabetes found in more than 770 (8.8%) individuals.

The findings were presented yesterday at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study for Diabetes.

VHI medical director Dr Bernadette Carr said the incidence of diabetes and pre-diabetes among the general public was significantly higher than they had anticipated.

Dr Carr urged people to make simple changes to their lifestyles in order to stay healthy and well: “We are strongly urging everyone to make the time to take the right kind of exercise and to inform themselves better on nutritional issues.”

Meanwhile, one of the scientists at Trinity College Dublin, who discovered what triggers type 2 diabetes believes a cure for the disease could be available in two to three years.

Prof Luke O’Neill, who heads the group at TCD, said that, up to now, no one knew why the body stopped responding to insulin.

“We have found what might be the ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’ in type 2 diabetes,” he said.

His team have found that a peptide hormone, Amyloid Polypeptide (IAPP) that is deposited in the pancreas leads to the development of Type 2 diabetes.

Speaking on RTÉ yesterday, Prof O’Neill said there were drugs being developed to cure the condition.


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