Causes of diabetes and other myths

  1. 0
    There is this belief among the Hispanic community (and perhaps other sections of the population) that diabetes is caused by a susto (scare) or coraje (anger). I’ve heard time a time again from friends and relatives “so and so got diabetes when he got in that car accident” (scare) or “so and so got diabetes when she found out her husband was cheating” (anger).
    I try to explain that diabetes is not caused by these events. Usually these events (car accident), lead to the detection of DM the person already had and didn’t know it.

    I know there are plenty of myths out there, but I was just wondering if this myth is just prevalent in the Hispanic community or have you heard this from other people too?

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  2. 15 Comments...

  3. 0
    I have NEVER heard that....
    I do work with a lot of Hispanic patients, too.
  4. 0
    Recently, for the second time in my career, Ive heard how a patient "caught" diabetes:

    "well, I was in the kitchen carrying a 5lb bag of sugar and dropped it. It went all over, and I was in my bare feet while I cleaned it up...the sugar got into my skin and now I have..." you guessed it.

    Bizarre what people believe, and no amount of health teaching or explaining could convince them that it wasn't the truth.
  5. 0
    I used to work for ophthalmologists and at a satellite clinic the techs used a machine that blew a puff of air into the eye to get a intraocular pressure reading. We had a lady come to the clinic for the first time, get the ancillary tests, then was told by the MD she had glaucoma. She had a fit! "Well, I didn't have blow-coma till that girl out front give it to me!". I guess she forgot she had come in due to low visual acuity. She would not let us treat her because we gave her blow-coma.
  6. 0
    I think anecdotal beliefs should be explored. The hormones associated with stress can cause disease.


    Chronic stress has been associated with the development of insulin-resistance, a condition in which the body is unable to use insulin effectively to regulate glucose (blood sugar).
    Insulin-resistance is a primary factor in diabetes.
    Stress can also exacerbate existing diabetes by impairing the patient's ability to manage the disease effectively.
    ...Evidence suggests that stressful experiences might affect diabetes, in terms of both its onset and its exacerbation....

    ...In a large population-based survey of glucose intolerance, Mooy et al.6 demonstrated an association between stressful experiences and the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Although this was a cross-sectional study, the authors investigated stress levels in people with previously undetected diabetes in order to rule out the possibility that the disease itself influenced reports of stressful experiences. They also took other factors into account, such as alcohol consumption, physical activity level, and education..

    ... Where stressful experiences have been implicated in the onset of type 1 diabetes, researchers have often attempted to explain this in terms of the effects of stress on the autoimmune system.2 Bottazo et al.9 hypothesized that environmental factors (e.g., viruses or toxic agents) trigger the autoimmune destruction of the ß-cells in genetically predisposed individuals....
  7. 0
    I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes--during a particularly stressful time in my life. My doctor assumed it could be associated w/ PCOS though. Although there is no cure--weight loss of about 20lbs has worked wonders! Blood sugar levels have been amazing since more head aches and nap taking (though still very enjoyable) is alot less now!

    I don't think that it was caused by stress, I think that sort of thing is just meant to happen! Things are still stressful as it is--NS always is isn't it!?....And my blood sugar levels haven't been out of range in quite some time!
  8. 0
    I was first diagnosed as having a high fasting blood sugar, in 1990. I was under a great deal of personal stress. But I was also under a great deal of physical stress. While stress can play a role, more than likely is the genetic link. A study was done of the Pina Indians, who suffer a high rate of diabetes. A gentic component was found that clearly link a gene to the diagnose. I have not heard of the mentioned causes but have heard other folk tales linking a disease to events happening in a patient's life. What is most important is the education of the patient and family member, concerning are the important issues surrounding diabetes.

  9. 0
    Chronic stress has been associated with the development of insulin-resistance, a condition in which the body is unable to use insulin effectively to regulate glucose (blood sugar).
    Insulin-resistance is a primary factor in diabetes.
    Stress can also exacerbate existing diabetes by impairing the patient's ability to manage the disease effectively.
    Chronic stress could be associated with the develpment of insulin-resistance, the key word is chronic. One stressful event cannot cause diabetes, if it did we would all be suffering from this disease.
  10. 0
    A diabetes nurse educator gave a speech as part of our orientation this week, and she said something to the effect of "As long as people know how to follow their diet and medication regimen, they don't ever need to know where their pancreas is." What she meant is that you do not have to know the correct pathophysiology of a disease to comply with treatment.

    She stated that one of her patients (an adolescent) was convinced that her pancreas was attached to her uterus. The diabetes educator did not try to continue to correct her because the patient was not changing her mind. She said that if these false beliefs aren't hurting anything, you have to let them go because otherwise you will be wasting a lot of time that you could be using on more meaningful (to the patient) teaching topics.

    I found her perspective to be very enlightening because she helped me to look at what my priorities should be as far as patient teaching.
    Last edit by ICRN2008 on Jan 20, '07
  11. 0
    I did a paper on this.

    The genetic component is only part of the picture.

    Pima people before modern times lived long health lives if the didn't die in accidents or as infants. They ate a very low fat diet that was mostly plan foods and sometimes very lean meat or fish. Their work was physically active. Running was part of recreational activity with dancing, games and races common.They were not obese and did not manefest diabetes.
    Now by age 25 50% are diabetic and obese.

    The Netsilik Eskimos lived on the ice and ate only seal meat in the winter. In the short Arctic summer they enjoyed a lot of fruits, roots, and leaves. They hunted many animals too. It was a high animal fat diet.Many of them also lived long lives without high rates of cardiovascular disease. Modern life has increased the cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer rates of those who eat a varied diet with refined and processed foods. Sugar and concentrated carbohydrates are especially bad for their health.

    Both the Pima and Netsilik peoples have individuals who by lifestyle choice follow more or less the diet of their ancestors. And the exercise more. These people do not have the high rates of disease of even their siblings.

    Can stress cause diabetes?
    Not exactly, but it can cause symptoms to appear more quickly. Stress increases the need for insulin. But in a person who is on their way to getting type I diabetes, less insulin is made and the demands of stress overwhelm the body's ability to secrete insulin. This is often when the symptoms of diabetes appear.

    In people with type 2 diabetes, the body stops responding normally to insulin. As the body stops responding normally, the ability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin falls. For those people close to the onset of symptoms, stress can add enough demands to their system to cause diabetes symptoms to appear.

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