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February 8, 2005

Research: Causes and Prevention

Question from Kailua, Hawaii, USA:

I was researching diabetes and came across this doctor's testimony. He stated that with the right way of eating, the right amount of sleep, and a proper diet, you can cure type 1 diabetes completely. This doctor stated that diabetes is cause by vertebrae pinching nerves that supply the insulin to the pancreas; it's not that the pancreas can't produce it any more. Is that true or he doesn't know what he's talking about?

Answer:

Well, not being privy to the specific link that you found, I can say unequivocally that there is no scientific evidence to support any idea that type 1 diabetes is linked to “pinched nerves” to the pancreas. As I do hope you have been told by your medical team, the overwhelming cause of type 1 diabetes is from a process whereby the immune system cells produce antibody proteins which “attack” the pancreas and prevent it from producing insulin. Why does this happen? We don’t know but we know there are certain genetic molecular combinations that affect the immune system to be “overactive” in this way, and similarly can lead to thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease of the intestines, adrenal disease, and many others. This autoimmune propensity runs in families. How do we know that there is the immune system destruction of the pancreatic beta cells that make insulin? They can be seen microscopically and there are immune tests to demonstrate.

No doubt, diet and exercise play extremely important roles to help regulate the glucose concentrations in patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, so let’s not ignore those factors. But, to reverse or prevent type 1 diabetes by diet and exercise is to invite a terrible death. If pinched nerves were the issue, our orthopedic colleagues would never be able to go home from the hospital.

As for the doctor you read about, I will leave that to you to decide about any quackery.

DS