Diabetes in the United States: epidemiology, scope, and impact

  • Maureen I. Harris


Epidemiologists deduce, infer, postulate, and convincingly extrapolate from selected samples to the population at large. Once epidemiologists applied careful counting of incidence, prevalance, and mortality to diabetes, the extraordinary truth of its enormous impact on industrialized nations was apparent. The grim truth is that contracting diabetes means that life will be foreshortened by nearly a decade while its complication of blindness, renal failure, and limb amputation become major risks. In this report, Harris, who heads the National Institute of Health National Diabetes Data Group, recounts the statistic that more than 10 million Americans have diagnosed diabetes while an additional 5 million have undiagnosed diabetes. Harris points to the ‘important new stage’ in the epidemiology of diabetes in which discovery of the genes that cause diabetes and the molecular mechanisms underlying its complications provide the foundation for ‘prevention of diabetes’. While gene extraction may not be practical either scientifically or economically for decades, understanding the molecular basis for perturbed metabolism induced by the diabetic genes(s) permits design of therapeutic intervention to interdict diabetic complications bypassing the need for often impossible to achieve normoglycemia.


Diabetic Retinopathy Intensive Insulin Therapy Undiagnosed Diabetes Lower Extremity Amputation Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

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  • Maureen I. Harris

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