Obesity, Diabetes and Organ Failure
Each year thousands of people die because of a lack of organs for transplantation. Current efforts to increase the supply of organs are woefully inadequate. The altruistic method (becoming a donor out of the goodness of ones heart) simply doesn’t work well enough. Fewer than fifty percent of Americans are organ donors. It does not look like the altruistic approach is going to change any time soon so we must explore every possibility.
One way of increasing the supply of organs for transplant is to reduce the demand and that can be done in part by changing lifestyles. Some of the causes of organ failure are preventable. This blog will focus on two contributors to the rising need for organs; obesity and diabetes. Both could be far better controlled than they are currently simply by eating properly and exercising regularly.
Let’s talk obesity, the second leading cause of unnecessary death in America. According to the American Obesity Association (AOA). http://obesity1.tempdomainname.com/subs/fastfacts/obesity_what2.shtml Approximately 127 million adults in the U.S. are overweight, 60 million obese, and 9 million severely obese Obesity is a disease that affects nearly one-third of the adult American population (approximately 60 million). The number of overweight and obese Americans has continued to increase since 1960, a trend that is not slowing down. Today, 64.5 percent of adult Americans (about 127 million) are categorized as being overweight or obese. Each year, obesity causes at least 300,000 excess deaths in the U.S., and healthcare costs of American adults with obesity amount to approximately $100 billion.
Fox news quoted a Web MD report http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,215604,00.html that says nine out of ten obese people develop type 2 diabetes and while obesity does not cause diabetes, research shows the two are closely related.
Net Wellness (http://www.netwellness.org/healthtopics/diabetes/faq3.cfm) defines diabetes as the inability of glucose to enter the cells. The result is that the bloodstream has a high amount of glucose and cells are not able to produce energy for the body. When diabetes is not carefully managed by keeping the amount of sugar in the blood at the right level, the resulting high glucose amounts wreak havoc on nearly every organ system in the body. The report goes on to say that as many as 65% of people diagnosed with diabetes will eventually die of a heart attack or a stroke and nearly 1 in 3 diabetics will experience kidney failure. For more information on diabetes visit the National Diabetes Education Program Website at: http://www.diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/type1and2/what.htm
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) offers comprehensive information on diabetes prevention and the value of proper nutrition and exercise along with symptoms of disease http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-prevention/how-to-prevent-diabetes.jsp
While I will continue to work to develop other methods of increasing the supply of transplantable organs, all of us should take every measure to prevent diseases that can affect our organs. As in most cases prevention is the best cure for organ failure.
You are also invited to join Organ Transplantation Initiative (OTI) http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=152655364765710 a group dedicated to providing help and information to donors, donor families, transplant patients and families, caregivers and all other interested parties. Your participation is important if we are to influence decision makers to support efforts to increase organ donation and support organ regeneration, replacement and research efforts.