August 22, 2010

Let's Translate The "How To Get Your Blood Sugar Under Control" Flyer

My site stats show that quite a few people visiting this blog and the main Blood Sugar 101 web site translate these pages into languages other than English using translation software. I also get requests every now and then to translate the site into other languages. Since the site and blog represent several hundred pages of text, this would be a massive undertaking and since the site is frequently updated, it isn't one I can currently take on.

But what I can do is translate the most important information on the site into other languages. So to do this, I'm asking those of you who are native speakers of languages other than English to help me. Here's how:

1. Download the "How to Get Your Blood Sugar Under Control" flyer. The US version represents blood sugar levels in mg/dl. The Rest of the world version does it in mmol/L. Choose the one appropriate to your audience. You'll find them here:

a. US Version

b. Rest of the World Version

2. Translate the flyer into your chosen language. Put the final version into Word or RTF format. Please embed fonts when you save the file if you use a non-Latin alphabet.

3. Email the file with your translation as an attachment. You'll find an email link on the Blood Sugar 101 main site. (I had to remove the one posted here as it immediately attracted spammers.) Be sure to tell me what language you are writing in. If your file uses a non-Latin alphabet please let me know which one.

I'll keep track of which ones I already have here to save people duplicating efforts. Then I will upload these translated flyers to the main site and put a link to them on the web page for How to Get Your Blood Sugar Under Control.



Swedish: Download in Swedish
Bahasa (Indonesian): Download in Bahasa (Indonesian)
German in MMOL/L Download in German using MMOL/L
German in mg/dl Download in German using mg/dl
Hebrew Download in Hebrew
Spanish Download in Spanish


August 15, 2010

A "Must Read" Book

Though it isn't about diabetes, I came across a book last week that I believe is essential reading for anyone with any interest in health-related topics.The book is Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America by Robert Whitaker.

Warning, this is not easy reading, because the story Whitaker makes--and documents--so convincingly is downright horrifying. And it makes the poor medical treatment and drug company malfeasance we in the diabetes community have come to take for granted look downright benign.

Because what Whitaker proves, quite convincingly, is that the drugs that doctors have been prescribing to people for transient, basically normal, episodes of mental imbalance are damaging their brains in ways that make them permanently mentally ill.

I knew from my own researches that the popular argument that people with depression have a "chemical imbalance that means they have to take psychiatric drugs just like people with diabetes need insulin" was utter hogwash. In fact, normal people and people who are depressed have identical amounts of serotonin in their brains, nor do the SSRIs actually raise the amount of serotonin long term.

But Whitaker documents that the psychiatrists who prescribe these drugs have also known this was untrue for decades, but continue to tell it to patients because it sounds convincing.

What I didn't know, was that what all the psychiatric drugs do is downregulate receptors for neurotransmitters, which results in the brain growing MORE receptors for these neurotransimitters in an attempt to maintain homeostasis.

What this means is that, when a person who now has an abnormal distribution of neurotransmitters in their brain stops taking the psychiatric drug, the many new receptors in their brain regain sensitivity to the neurotransmitter. This causes the person to experience overloads of neurotransmitter signals that result in what is in fact an extreme state that is very much "mental illness." But it isn't the underlying condition causing the mental illness, it's the warping of the brain structure caused by the drug.

What is even more tragic is this: Whitaker documents that after a very brief honeymoon period, these psychiatric drugs do NOT improve symptoms. In fact, the main thing they do is cloud the mind and decrease cognition.

He gives the frightening statistics showing how millions of people who take these drugs are unable to hold jobs, which contrasts with what used to be the case before these drugs were in widespread use.

Statistically reliable studies prove conclusively that in the pre-drug era and even today, people who do not take psychiatric drugs for depression or certain kinds of psychosis are far more likely to recover completely than those who take the drugs--by a huge percentage.

Even more significantly, far more people who don't take the drugs, whatever their diagnosis, are able to keep on working productively, whereas those who take the drugs end up, overwhelmingly unemployed on disability, for life.

I had always wondered why the diagnosis of "Manic depression" a.k.a. "Bipolar" which was extremely rare back in my youth had become so common now. My father was a clinical psychologist who headed the Psychology Department at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital and specialized in the use of diagnostic tests. So I grew up listening each night at the dinner table to long talks about psychiatric illnesses and their manifestations. Manic depression was considered a fascinating oddity, because it was very rare. Now it is so common you will find someone with it in any room containing fifty people.

Whitaker had an explanation for the surge in "bipolar" diagnoses, too. It turns out that cycling up and down, though mostly down, is another side effect caused by the commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs.

It turrns out that most people are not diagnosed as "bipolar" until AFTER they have been given an antidepressant for what is all too often the normal sadness everyone experiences as part of the process of growing up and living through the tough things that happen in life.

In the course of his book Whitaker demonstrates, with sickeningly convincing documentation, that the same pharmaceutical companies who brought you Avandia et al, hid the data that showed what their psychiatric drugs really do and how they worsen patient outcomes long term. Every time the psychiatric community has roused itself to question the usefulness of these drugs, the drug companies have done what they do best.

They've paid "thought leaders" huge consulting fees to promote their drugs to peers. They've made sure researchers avoided doing research that could kill their golden geese by making it clear that studies that damage their market will result in institutions losing the huge amount of "research" dollars the drug companies provide.

And of course, as they do in diabetes, they've put most of their efforts into marketing to the overburdened family doctor, who has no background in psychiatry but is the person who prescribes most psychiatric drugs to the average person.

Whitaker devotes a lot of room to the surging trend of putting children on these brain damaging drugs, and frankly, I found this section so painful to read I avoided completing it. To face the fact that doctors and schools are putting children on drugs that permanently damage the structure of the maturing brain in ways that ruin lives was like reading about the holocaust.

I know too much from my diabetes studies about how effective drug company marketing is in keeping doctors from knowing the truth about effective, non drug treatments for common conditions to be very hopeful that this terrible epidemic of drug-caused brain damage can be halted.

But as is the case with diabetes, people willing to read and study the facts can protect themselves and their friends and lovesd ones. And that is better than nothing.

So read this book.

Talk about its findings to your friends in the community. Get across to them what psychiatrists all used to know in the 1960s:
It's normal for people to go through periods where they feel depressed but that the overwhelming majority of people who experience episodes of depression lasting a few months will recover completely with short term support and go on to live normal happy lives.

There is not an iota of proof that mental illness of any type is caused by "chemical imbalance." The drugs prescribed for mental illness do not supply missing chemicals, they change the sensitivity and distribution of receptors and over time they shrink brain tissue in ways that look a lot like early dementia.
I worried that reading this book might prove too terrifying for those of you who have already been trapped by them, since I know that many people with diabetes developed their diabetes after taking one of them.

(Whitaker doesn't go into this in depth, but I document on my site that SSRIs and atypical antipsychotics like Zyprexa are known to cause insulin resistance and outright diabetes in people who did not have them before taking them. Details HERE and HERE)

So I contacted the author and asked for resources for people who need support to confront these frightening facts.

He sent me this link:

The Icarus Project: Harm Reduction Guide To Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs & Withdrawal

If you are currently taking a dangerous psychiatric drug, read the link above. Do not attempt to get off these dangerous drugs before studying this information and providing yourself with a support system.

Recovery is possible, but stopping the drugs cold turkey can cause acute episodes of mental illness. Learn the safe way to recover your mental health and reverse the damage that has been done to your brain.

August 10, 2010

Dear Opportunistic Weasel

Please tell the PR firm you retained to promote your worthless supplement, self-promoting diet book, dangerous drug, or sleazy clinic that they wasted their time emailing me the computer generated letter that praised my site and offered me the "exciting opportunity to partner with you."

I do not want to meet with you at the ADA Scientific Sessions. I do not want to have a meaningful discussion with you on Skype. I do not want to review your book, no matter how many degrees you've earned. And I most certainly do not care how much you'd appreciate it if I were to tell my readers about your bogus product.

You're a complete stranger to me and my readers and there is no reason on earth why they'd want to hear about the product with which you plan to fleece people with diabetes.

Your heartfelt praise of my web site is hard to believe in light of the link you provided to yours--which contains the same toxic diet advice that has been giving people with diabetes complications for two generations.

My readers do not want to hear about the benefits of a low fat diet. They don't want to learn about miracle fruits. They really don't want to buy a book full of recipes guaranteed to raise their blood sugar.

They aren't interested in the latest study you manufactured, in house, for your toxic drug, no matter how much you pay ADA to keep telling people they should ignore the objective research that revealed the dangers you kept hidden for a decade.

They don't even want a "free" meter whose outrageously expensive strips (not included) aren't any more accurate than those sold for half their price.

I am not swayed by the testimonials you made up for the obscenely expensive supplement you're selling under your own branded label. I've already told my readers about the peer reviewed studies that prove it doesn't work, as you'd have seen had you actually taken a look at my site.

There is a special place in hell reserved for professionals who put their intelligence and advanced educations to the service of enriching themselves by promoting expensive miracle cures to people suffering from a condition that, treated poorly, dooms them to blindness, amputation, kidney failure and heart attack. I hope you enjoy your stay.

Because, if you hadn't put all your energy into figuring out how to extract cash from the millions of people with diabetes by selling them bogus crap, you might have learned there is already IS a treatment that for a good proportion of all people with Type 2 Diabetes restores normal health, even if it can't undo the underlying flaws that cause the diabetes.

This treatment isn't magic, it isn't secret, and all it takes to put it into practice is a blood sugar meter, some strips, and a willingness to test the foods we eat.

Sadly, most people with diabetes will never hear about this treatment, because people like you have so much more money available to promote your bogus products. The deluge of PR releases you send to the health media drown out the voices of those of us trying to get the word out about what really works.

So Dr. Weasel and all the other Weasels who have been clogging my email inbox of late, listen up! If you want to "partner" with me, a good place to start would be to include a copy of the How to Lower Your Blood Sugar Flyer with every communication you send to anyone with diabetes. Feature it on your web site. Include it in the press releases you send the media. Discuss it when you muscle your way onto TV talk shows.

Before let your PR staff send me an email raving about how much you love my Blood Sugar 101 web site, have the courtesy of reading a few pages--particularly those on how to lower blood sugar, what drugs work, and what supplements are dangerous.

If the real reason you contacted me was because you hope to use the traffic my site gets to make money off my readers, don't send the email. There is zero chance I will respond positively.

Every Weasel like you who takes up even three minutes of the time I could put to better use responding to emails from people with diabetes with real problems is doing his part to ensure people with diabetes get sicker.

Of course, the sicker they are, the more likely they are to fall for your scams. Maybe that's part of your strategy.

If anyone reading this knows what mailing list I managed to get on that is earning me this weaselly deluge and knows how to get me off of it, let me know.

I'm getting to where I'm starting to miss those nice men in Nigeria who have a couple spare million they want to deposit in my bank account. At least they don't pretend they're trying to help people with diabetes.


August 6, 2010

Lastest Study Touts Benefits of Once a Week Injected Byetta

UPDATE (April 2, 2013): Before you take Byetta, Victoza, Onglyza, or Januvia please read about the new research that shows that they, and probably all incretin drugs, cause severely abnormal cell growth in the pancreas and precancerous tumors. You'll find that information HERE.

Original Post:

In one of those studies beloved by drug companies, three different drug regimens were compared against each other for a very brief period (six months) in a relatively small number of people (about 170 per regimen.)

One of these drugs was long acting Byetta (LAR) which will be marketed as Bydureon if it ever gets approved by the FDA. That hasn't happened yet. While this study is being reported as showing long acting Byetta as superior to the other regimens, what it really showed was that none of them is particularly helpful to people with Type 2 diabetes.

Efficacy and safety of exenatide once weekly versus sitagliptin or pioglitazone as an adjunct to metformin for treatment of type 2 diabetes (DURATION-2): a randomised trial Dr Richard M Bergenstal et al. The Lancet The Lancet, Volume 376, Issue 9739, Pages 431 - 439, 7 August 2010 doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60590-9

As usual, the participants in the study started out with an average A1c of 8.5% which is quite high and suggests that many people in the study had A1cs far higher than 8.5%. Drug companies always use people with the highest possible A1cs in their studies because it is a lot easier to drop anyone's A1c from 10% to 8.5% than it is to drop an A1c from 7% to 5.5%--though the latter A1c is the only one that would ensure excellent health.

The regimens all included metformin, to which was added Januvia (sitagliptin), Actos (pioglitazone) or the long acting slow release 2 mg dose of Byetta (Exenatide.)

The only end point (i.e. thing that would be reported) was change in A1c. As we all know, this can be a misleading statistic because the identical A1c may represent very different patterns of blood sugar performance--and these different patterns have very different outcomes in terms of causing the classic diabetes complications.

In particular, drugs that lower A1c by causing reactive lows in response to high blood sugar peaks will result in higher complication profiles than those that achieve lower A1cs by flattening blood sugar curves.

But to get back to this study, the finding after 6 months was that the group taking metformin and once a week Byetta saw an average drop in A1c of 1.5% compared to .9% for Januvia and 1.2% for Actos.

As the group average A1c started out at 8.5%, these average drops in A1c still left everyone involved with blood sugars high enough to guarantee the classic diabetic complications and heart disease.

You can learn what peer reviewed research has learned about what blood sugar levels cause complications HERE and what A1c predicts heart attack HERE.

This suggests that none of these regimens meets the only endpoint anyone with diabetes really cares about: preventing blindness, neuropathy, amputation, kidney failure and heart attack, all of which become much more likely as soon as A1c goes over 6%.

Participants in this study lost more weight--on average 5 lbs lost with Byetta, compared to less than 2 lbs with Januvia and a weight gain of 6 pounds with Actos.

This finding needs to be put into context. These are averages, and we know that the way Byetta works, one third of those who use it see dramatic weight loss and improvement in their blood sugar levels. The rest experience little or none. So that average--and the A1c average--is probably meaningless, there were most likely 1/3 of the participants reporting much bigger losses and the rest reporting none, a fact that is lost when the data is averaged.

One reason for that impressive weight loss is made clear in the reporting of the side effects. One out of 4 taking Byetta experienced nausea and one out of five diarrhea.

The study was too short in duration and too small in the number of participants to tell us anything useful about long term side effects for any of these drugs. When it comes to side effects, after reading every study published about these drugs, I personally like Byetta better than Januvia or Actos.

Januvia worries me because it turns off the gene that produces the DPP-4 enzyme the immune system uses to kill melanocytes that have become cancerous and which also is involved in fighting ovarian, lung and prostate cancers. (Details HERE.)

I also like Byetta a lot better than Actos, which long term causes what may be irreversible osteoporosis in the arms and legs as well as edema which may lead to heart failure, even in people who had no sign of heart failure at the beginning of the study. (Details HERE.)

But Byetta is still relatively new, so we can't be entirely sure that over a long time it will be harmless, and these diabetes drugs are intended to be used for a lifetime.

The bulk of research we have suggests strongly that Byetta does not in ANY way affect the underlying causes of Type 2 diabetes, though it may, for about 1/3 of those who take it provide significant weight loss and effective blood sugar control. (Details HERE.)

It is because the people for whom it does work experience such dramatic improvements, that I have come to think it might be one of the drugs worth trying. But because it isn't effective for 2/3 of those who take it, if you don't see dramatic results within a month, there is no reason to keep on taking it.

If you are considering Byetta, once the long acting version is approved always start Byetta with the short acting twice a day version.. Try the daily version to see if you are one of the 1/3 of people who respond to Byetta.

The side effects of Byetta can be miserable and you really don't want to put a drug into your body that lasts a week and can cause nonstop vomiting and diarrhea. With the twice daily injections, if the side effects are intolerable, you can just stop using it and they'll stop almost immediately. Many people who do respond to Byetta find that they get over the side effects after starting with the low dose and working up.

That said, before you spring for any of these drugs, remember that most people with Type 2 can drop their A1cs considerably more than 1.5% simply by cutting way down on their carbohydrate intake. You can find instructions on the easiest way to do this HERE.

I hear continually from readers of this blog and of my web site who have dropped A1cs from as high as 13% down to the 5% range simply by cutting way down on their carbohydrate intake. Some have had diabetes for a decade or longer and only learned after reading the Blood Sugar 101 site that it is the carbohydrates we eat at meal times that raise our blood sugars.

As we now have a long term study of the low carb diet that finds zero negative health outcomes in people using it over two years and yet more proof that people on low carb diets end up with better cholesterol profiles than people on low fat diets, there's no reason not to cut as far down on your carbohydrate intake as you can manage comfortably.

Weight and Metabolic Outcomes After 2 Years on a Low-Carbohydrate Versus Low-Fat Diet: A Randomized Trial Gary D. Foster et al. Annals of Internal Medicinevol. 153 no. 3 147-157 Aug 3, 2010. (Discussed HERE.)

Anecdotal experience suggests that most people with Type 2 diabetes can achieve significant drops in A1c by cutting down their carbohydrate intake to 70-110 grams a day, which is much higher than the level used in low carb weight loss diets. This is especially true when they combine metformin with the low carb diet a synergistic combination that often results in the best outcomes.

Lower intakes work even better, but may be harder to sustain by people who have to interact on a daily basis with others in situations where food is an important part of the social behavior.

I have great respect for everyone who can maintain on lower carbohydrate intakes, but my goal is to help people find ways to control their blood sugar that does not require heroic self control and which can be sustained for decades without diet meltdown.

We know for a fact that the low carb diet has no side effects except weight loss of approximately 20% of starting weight for most people, dramatically lowered blood sugar, and improved lipids. None of the pharmaceuticals can make that claim.