Iacocca Launches Campaign Against Diabetes

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Former Chrysler chairman Lee Iacocca is launching a new campaign to fund clinical tests toward a potential cure for diabetes.

Iacocca says he's asking one million people to contribute $10 each toward the three-year testing program to be conducted at a Boston hospital. He's already committed $1 million to the effort.

While Type Two diabetes is more common and treatable, affecting as many as 18 million people, Type One often leads to blindness and loss of limbs. It's the fifth leading cause of death in the US, afflicting two million Americans.

Iacocca's wife died of Type One diabetes 21 years ago.

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Who Gets Diabetes?

Diabetes is not contagious. People cannot "catch" it from each other. However, certain factors can increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes occurs equally among males and females, but is more common in whites than in nonwhites. Data from the World Health Organization's Multinational Project for Childhood Diabetes indicate that type 1 diabetes is rare in most African, American Indian, and Asian populations.

However, some northern European countries, including Finland and Sweden, have high rates of type 1 diabetes. The reasons for these differences are not known.

Type 2 diabetes is more common in older people, especially in people who are overweight, and occurs more often in African Americans, American Indians, Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, and Hispanic Americans.

On average, non-Hispanic African Americans are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites of the same age.

Hispanic Americans are nearly twice as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites. American Indians have the highest rates of diabetes in the world. Among the Pima Indians living in Arizona, for example, half of all adults have type 2 diabetes.

The prevalence of diabetes in the United States is likely to increase for several reasons.

First, a large segment of the population is aging. Also, Hispanic Americans and other minority groups make up the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.

Finally, Americans are increasingly overweight and sedentary. According to recent estimates, the prevalence of diabetes in the United States is predicted to be 8.9 percent of the population by 2025.

Source: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health/diabetes/pubs/dmover/dmover.htm#scope (National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse).