Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Now here's an adverse effect I hadn't thought of before

According to a report in Radiology Journal, discussed here by the BBC, increasing numbers of Americans are too fat to fit into imaging machines. Also, more and more people are so fat that they can't be scanned by ultrasound because the fat blocks the sound waves. So, they are likely to have cardiovascular disease, but the doctors can't image your coronary arteries to see where the blockages are.

You may also have read about a new report in JAMA (subscription only, natch, but here's the abstract) which found that people who acquire Type 2 diabetes as children had about 5 times the risk of end-stage renal disease as people who became diabetic as adults; and 3 times the death rate before age 55 as non-diabetic people. I would call this another open door crashed through, but sometimes it takes the hard facts to get people's attention.

The good news is that this study is one of a series of studies on diabetes that have been conducted among the Pima Indians of what is now Arizona, and that the Pima may be showing the way to preventing overweight and diabetes. The Pima, like Native Americans generally, are at high risk for Type 2 diabetes -- but only in the modern era. Their genetic heritage, forged in an environment of scarcity, is particularly unsuited to conditions in industrial society. In a pilot study with 95 Pima, many succeeded in adopting a traditional diet and lifestyle, and the intervention shows real promise. A larger study involving additional Indian tribes is now underway. Perhaps the real Americans can save some of us illegal immigrants from ourselves.

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