Delta student Lilly Warren learned she had diabetes about a year-and-a-half ago.
“I have a strong genetic pull on both sides of my family, and it’s almost at 100 percent [diagnoses] for three generations back,” said Warren. “My great-grandmother died from losing a limb,”
“She was not obese and she was healthy,” Warren continued. “It doesn’t discriminate,”
Diabetes is a disease that affects those whose blood contains too much glucose, or sugar. This excess can inhibit both the production and absorption of insulin, a hormone that regulates carbohydrate and fat metabolism.
The affliction can lead to heart disease, blindness and death. In 2012, the disease was the seventh leading cause of the death in California.
The causes of the disease are both genetic and behavioral; diabetes can “run in the family,” yet it most commonly affects people who are overweight and less physically active.
Delta student Josh Phillips’ mother, grandmother and 21-year-old sister all have diabetes.
“People know [of diabetes], but they don’t know what causes it,” said Phillips. “They think, ‘oh, just don’t eat a lot of sugar,’ but it’s more than just that. And you gotta know if it’s hereditary; you gotta do something about it,”
There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, also known as “juvenile diabetes,” is typically diagnosed in children and occurs when the body cannot produce enough insulin. According to the American Diabetes Association, only about 5 percent of diabetics are categorized as Type 1.
Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body cannot effectively absorb insulin. It typically appears in middle to old age.
Delta student Raúl Márquez’s father was diagnosed about five years ago. He has changed his own diet to help his father adjust.
“It’s been pretty rough for him. He has to be careful of what he eats,” said Márquez. “It’s only me and him, so I gotta go eat what he eats; that way, it’s easier,”
Between 2010 and 2012, San Joaquin County ranked sixth highest of California’s 58 counties in the rate of diabetes-related deaths, with 24.8 per 100,000 people.
The disease is becoming more common. A recent study of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data shows that in 2010, about 21 million U.S. adults aged 20 and older had diabetes. This amounted to about 9.5 percent of the 21-year and older population for that year.
Warren cautioned her fellow students to be wary of their health.
“If you’re feeling light-headed, feel like you’re gonna faint, if you’re dehydrated, wanna go to the bathroom all the time: those are really cues about diabetes, and you could be razor-thin and still be a product of that,” said Warren. “Please listen to your bodies. Real important,”