AROUND ten per cent, or between 60,000 and 70,000 Cypriots suffer from diabetes and one third of those people will not even be aware they have it until four to seven years after the onset of the disease.
A study carried out between 2005 and 2010 on 485 patients – 280 men and 205 women – found that 52 were suffering from Type 1 diabetes or insulin dependent, and 433 from Type II diabetes or non-insulin dependent.
The research also found that good cholesterol, also known as HDL, may prevent the onset and retard the progression of Type I and Type II diabetes.
Researchers from throughout Cyprus as well as Hungary presented their findings yesterday at the University of Nicosia under the auspices of the Pancyprian Diabetes Association, the Foundation for the Promotion of Research, and the Cyprus Centre for European and International Affairs.
The link between diabetes and HDL cholesterol has never been mentioned in medical literature, the researchers claimed.
The research, which mainly examined the onset of kidney failure in the Cypriot population due to Type II diabetes, studied samples from a bank of genetic material in order to determine the relationship between kidney failure and Type II diabetes in Cypriot patients.
Half of diabetes patients develop end-stage renal failure and go on dialysis to survive, according to Dr. Theofanis Theofanous, a nephrology specialist and director of the dialysis department at Famagusta’s general hospital. Dr. Michalis Koptides, a biology professor at the University of Nicosia, did say, however, that “individual biological mechanisms are not fully understood” and that “genetic factors may be involved in the development of diabetic nephropathy.”
The study also confirmed well-established facts about how to treat diabetes so that it does not result in kidney failure, such as taking anti-hypertensive medication to control blood pressure, controlling blood sugar levels, and not smoking.
“Early diagnosis and therapeutic intervention is important and crucial for the prevention of diabetic buy
According to Theofanous, reigning in high blood pressure and controlling glucose levels early can reduce the incidence of diabetes-induced renal failure in the population by 14 per cent each, and quitting smoking by 7 per cent. But Theofanous does warn that the figures “may be slightly overestimated because the sample was insufficient for complete isolation and independence of each factor such as smoking in women and the impact of smoking on hypertension.”
Obesity, diet, physical inactivity, insulin resistance, a family history of diabetes, ethnicity, and age can all contribute to developing the disease, the researchers reported. The incidence of obesity among children in developed countries has increased from 4 per cent in 1963 to approximately 17 per cent in 2004, in turn increasing their chances of developing Type II diabetes, according to George Reusz, a professor from Summelweis University in Budapest.
The researchers emphasised the fact that diabetes and its complications, which also include coronoary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and neuropathy, among others, are on the rise in developed nations and will impact their ability to adequately treat their diabetic populations unless people alter their lifestyles to avoid developing the disease.
“Diabetes is now a global epidemiological problem,” said Theofanous. “As a chronic disease…it is plaguing all countries of the world and national budgets at great cost,” he said.
Reusz concurred, saying that “the majority of type 2 diabetes cases can be prevented – prevention costs governments far less than treating diabetes and its complications. Diagnosis, treatment, management and prevention of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases require integrated health systems, delivery of care down to primary care level, and supportive policies outside the health sector,” he said.