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Universities in Manchester have conducted new research that demonstrates how British Muslims with diabetes are avoiding getting GP surgery in order to participate in fasting during “Ramadan”, a holy month celebrated in the religion. For the UK, this research is considered the first of its...

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is an overwhelming complication some women may face during a pregnancy where the body does not produce enough insulin to deal with a high blood sugar level. GDM is one of the most common conditions affecting pregnant women, affecting approximately 1 in 10 expectant women [1]. Since rates of GDM is higher in overweight women, this condition has been on the rise alongside obesity. However, if this condition is diagnosed and treated early, a healthy pregnancy can be ensured.

To understand diabetes, in general, is to understand the function of the hormone insulin. Insulin regulates the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates and helps transform sugar into energy. Diabetes usually occurs when there is insufficient insulin produced which causes high levels of glucose in the bloodstream.

For people with GDM, insulin is usually blocked by hormones found in the placenta.

Research has shown women over the age of 35, who have a family history, or are overweight are more prone to exhibit GDM [1]. Being overweight is the main factor because the extra mass prohibits insulin’s ability to function in keeping blood sugar levels up to par.

[1] Gestational Diabetes during Pregnancy. What to Expect. Retrieved from: http://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/gestational-diabetes/

Ramadan_and_DiabetesUniversities in Manchester have conducted new research that demonstrates how British Muslims with diabetes are avoiding getting GP surgery in order to participate in fasting during “Ramadan”, a holy month celebrated in the religion. For the UK, this research is considered the first of its kind.

A lot of researchers found many individuals fasting during Ramadan, despite having serious cases of diabetes. And the worst part was that many of these people avoided telling their physicians that they were doing these. Many of those who were told not to fast went ahead and did it anyway.

Number of Muslim Diabetics in the UK

There are approximately 3 million people in the UK who have been diagnosed with diabetes. This number is four times greater than that of people in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Recent figures also suggest that a little more than 300,000 Muslims who reside in the UK have diabetes.

Ramadan: Trouble for Diabetic Muslims

The problem with Ramadan in 2014 is that it falls at the end of June. As a result, the increased amount of daylight will mean more hours of required fasting. For a Muslim diabetic, this can be a serious issue and regularly maintaining glycemic control without eating is a difficult task indeed.

Although the Islamic law states that a “sick” Muslim can be exempt from fasting, the majority of those in the UK don’t view themselves this way. As a result, they decide to fast and all of them suffer from the risk of experiencing severe complications and a lower quality of life by doing so.

Fasting For Ramadan and Diabetes: What are the Risks?

The reason why fasting during the Ramadan has been discouraged by medical professors is because patients showed a relatively high chance of experiencing complications thereafter. Due to the low amount of food intake by Muslims, they will be at a higher chance of developing something called “Hypoglycemia”.

It is estimated that close to 4% of all diabetic patients die due to untreated or severe hypoglycemia. And while this number is slightly lower for patients with type 2 diabetes, it is safe to say that it is a widespread problem among Muslims, especially during this time of year. The chances of developing hypoglycemia during the Ramadan is about 5x more likely due to fasting- and this is for patients with type 1 diabetes.

For patients with type 2 diabetes, the chances of developing hypoglycemia is about 7 times higher during the Ramadan. And experts believe that these numbers are drastically underestimated. But even with these numbers, Muslims with diabetes need to tread carefully when fasting, or they will be at risk for severe complications.

What Will Happen Moving Forward?

Medical experts believe that the best way to handle this situation is to get more Muslims involved in the diabetic community, primarily from the standpoint of being a physician or educator. This will show Muslim diabetes that fasting can be exceptionally dangerous to their long-term health, and that it should be avoided as much as possible.

A recent October 2011 study tested how effective a muffin diabetic test was for the purpose of diagnosing diabetes.  Normally a patient exhibiting diabetic symptoms will do an oral glucosemuffin1 tolerance test to see if they actually have the disease.

This test includes a person fasting overnight and then drinking a sugary glucose substance the following morning, and then a doctor monitors the patient’s blood glucose levels to see how their body reacts to increases in blood glucose levels.  However, patients, particularly women, do not like this test – they find the oral glucose taste unbearable.

From this study, researchers suggest that there is an appropriate alternative to this sugary glucose mixture – the muffin.  The muffin is a deceptive breakfast choice – it probably contains too much sugar to be labeled as a healthy breakfast option.

Moreover, as Dr. Michael Traubb, the doctor heading this study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, indicates “a muffin more closely resembles what someone really eats – it may provide just a more adequate test.”  For, it is
Nonetheless, there are many medical critics of this study.  While they agree that muffins are “probably more convenient,” they take issue with the obvious – muffins vary greatly, while the glucose mixture used for the oral glucose tolerance test is standardized.

However, the findings from this study seem to prove that the muffin test for diabetes is just as accurate as the oral glucose tolerance test.  Perhaps the muffin test should be used as a complement to the oral glucose test instead of a replacement.  Do you think a muffin is an appropriate substitute for the oral glucose test?

The muffin test was administered to a group of twelve women, of which two of those women were diagnosed with diabetes.  Those same women then received the oral glucose test.  One of the two women ‘diagnosed’ via the muffin test was also diagnosed via the oral glucose test.
Advocates of the test deem that the muffin test is cheaper, and it doesn’t give women stomach problems; stomach side effects are normally a problem with the oral glucose test.  Thus, it will be interesting to see whether this test gains popularity in future years as a reliable test for diabetic symptoms.

Diabetes is a fairly common disease that millions of people in the United States are living with each and every day. While diabetes is manageable, the cost of medications to do so can often become difficult to afford. However, results from researchers at Johns Hopkins University may be very promising to certain people suffering from diabetes.
Researchers observed 2,235 adults living with Type 2 diabetes, which is generally associated with being overweight, who received stomach-reducing surgery. What these researchers discovered was that after only 6 months, almost 75% of those who received surgery were no longer taking their diabetic medications. Furthermore, 2 years following the surgery, 84.5% of those who received surgery were now free of their diabetes medication or in many cases, multiple medications.
Not only were many of these patients able to experience a significant decline in their weight after the surgery, they were also able to experience a significant decline in their healthcare costs. With the price of medications in the United States being as high as they are, reducing or eliminating the dependence of medications can make such a difference in a person’s life.
However, researchers made another interesting discovery while observing these patients. While they found that stomach-reducing surgery allowed patients to stop taking their diabetic medications, they found that this became possible even before patients began to experience weight loss from the surgery. This could support theories that suggest that surgery actually alters the stomach hormones, allowing them to control blood glucose levels more effectively.
While there are certain risks associated with this surgery, for diabetics, the benefits may heavily outweigh the risks. In the end a person should discuss the options with their doctor, family, then weigh their options and decide what will be best for themselves.

The development of genomic testing within the medical community demonstrates a strong and positive future for diagnosis and treatment of many prevalent conditions in today’s population. Genetic testing is primarily conducted in a laboratory setting, where analysts examine a piece of tissue, possibly a hair, a blood sample or a saliva sample and evaluate a person’s risk of health problems or the effect of someone’s treatment. As these tests become more refined and accurate, they show a promising future for the medical community, which will eventually allow medical practitioners to prescribe medication based on the structure of a person’s DNA.

There are many independent companies who are currently advertising personal genomic tests for sale to measure the genetic risk for multiple diseases. However, the medical officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are cautioning consumers that as of yet, genomic testing is not ready for widespread use.

These medical officials are worried that the reliability and the clinical validity of these genetic tests are not yet at an appropriate standard for clinical practice. Because of the increasing amount of genomic testing that has recently been offered through internet advertising by independent companies, there is worry that the DNA results will not be routinely monitored or evaluated for accuracy. The clinical validity of today’s genetic testing is also in question, as many common diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease are caused by many different genes, not all of which have been researched yet.

Though the future of genomic testing is certainly promising, these tests are not yet recommended for routine use within clinical practice. The standard methods of disease control, including exercise, weight loss and blood pressure control provide effective treatment for every person, regardless of their genetic background. For an inexpensive and more accurate genetic testing, medical practitioners recommend researching family history, as it provides information about the genes and environmental factors that are shared among relatives – which can be just as effective as one of today’s genomic tests.

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