How diabetes affects more people than cancer and dementia combined

By Tim Hopkinson
Wednesday, 12 June, 2019, 10:23

One in 15 people live with diabetes – that’s 4.7 million people in the UK and is far more than cancer and dementia combined.

This also includes one million people who do not even know they have diabetes.

As part of Diabetes Week, Diabetes UK wants to increase people's understanding of the condition and help tackle the stigma many people with all types of diabetes feel.

Type 1 and Type 2 are the two main types of diabetes but there are also rarer types. What they all have in common is they raise sugar levels in the blood which can seriously damage the body.

Some things can increase the risk of developing diabetes, from genetics and ethnic background to gender, age and lifestyle factors.

You’re more at risk if you are white and over 40, or over 25 if you’re African-Caribbean, Black African, or South Asian.

You are also two to six times more likely to get Type 2 diabetes if you have a parent, brother, sister or child with the condition.

Graphic by Craig Lightowler

A spokesman for Diabetes UK said: "When you’ve got diabetes, just getting through the day can be a monumental achievement.

"But it doesn't mean life stops. People have become professional athletes, topped the charts and ruled the country with diabetes.

"It might make life harder but it doesn’t have to change your ambitions or adventures."

Twenty-five-year-old boxer Muhammad Ali had his application for a professional licence rejected because of diabetes. He said: "Diabetes has been a challenge to me, but I don’t suffer.

"It's about educating myself and overcoming the challenges the condition presents."

He added: "I don’t think of diabetes as an illness. It’s something you’ve got to control.

"You know what foods you should be eating and how much insulin you have to take to control your sugar levels. People make it out to be a terrible illness but it’s not – it’s down to you and how you control your symptoms."

And he made the link between his sport and health issues.

"Diabetes and boxing are both about discipline. When you’re boxing, you can’t indulge in the wrong foods, you have to stay hydrated and you have to sleep at the right times.

"I think boxing and having diabetes is an excellent combination because boxing helps me stay as healthy as possible."

For more information visit the Diabetes UK website.