I was at Bloggercon this weekend, and durng lunch on Saturday we had a meetup of medically-focused bloggers. It was a small bunch, including both active medbloggers and those who are working in the health care space and are curious about medblogging. It was organized by BlogFriend Enoch Choi.
Also in attendance was another BlogFriend, Amy from DiabetesMine. Now, there was also a guy who is trying to create and promote a site about prevention and healthy living. I didn't get his card, so I can't point to it, but even if I had it, I might not point to him anyway, to save him some embarrassment. Because, you see, he started talking at Amy about prevention and how she could have avoided getting diabetes in the first place. Amy happens to have the kind of diabetes that is caused by genetic factors. I guess her extremely petite frame wasn't a tip-off to this guy. I could feel her bristling in the seat next to mine. She let him talk for a little while...long enough to dig his own grave...then informed him that hers was an auto-immune disorder, so she didn't really think what he was talking about was relevant to her.
But it did make me think that even if she had the kind of diabetes that was lifestyle-oriented, she still would have been bristling, because there was something judgmental in the tone of what this guy was saying. And I'm sure he's not the only one. As we learn more and more about how our lifestyle...diet, exercise, smoking etc... contribute to various illnesses I think it's becoming more common to meter our sympathy based on how likely it is that the patient contributed to their own disease with poor choices.
On June 11th the news was full of a new report talking about the number of cases of diabetes worldwide. It has soared from 30 million to 230 million in the last two decades. most cases, it is true, can be attributable to changes in how we live...a move toward less active lifestyles and inexpensive convenience foods that are less healthy. This is happening in countries all aronud the world. Type 1 diabetes is "responsible for only 5 percent to 10 percent of cases and is not associated with behavior but rather is suspected of stemming almost entirely from genetic factors."
The huge and scary numbers indiciate this is far more than a person-by-person lack of willpower problem...there is a societal thing going on here...we are evolving societally in ways that are killing us physically! And "killing us" is quite literal. Check out this disturbing fact:
Still OK with blaming the victim?
In some of the world’s poorest nations, the disease is a quick death sentence. While Americans can live for years with the disease, a person in Mozambique who requires injections of insulin can expect to live just a year; in Mali, such people survive about 30 months.