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Americans Just Don’t Get It! The Risks of Diabetes

Feb 3, 2009

More people are afraid of being in a plane crash, hit by lightning or bitten by a snake than developing diabetes, according to a recently announced American Diabetes Association survey. In 2007, 233,619 people died from diabetes and 491 died from aviation accidents.

The survey findings showed that only 5 percent reported a fear of getting an illness or disease like diabetes, while 16 percent feared being in a plane crash, 13 percent feared snake bites and 5 percent were afraid of being hit by lightning.



“Accidents and animal attacks don’t compare to a potentially life-threatening illness like diabetes,” said Art Franke, director of diabetes programs for the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan. “While the impacts of these accidents may be more immediate, the reality is, the consequences of mismanaged diabetes can have equally severe consequences that include loss of limbs, blindness and even death.”

In fact, 491 deaths related to commercial aviation accidents happened in 2007 whereas diabetes contributed to 233,619 deaths in 2005. Diabetes is currently the sixth leading cause of death in Michigan. Ignoring diabetes or not managing the disease can lead to complications, including:

  • Heart disease and stroke – Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates approximately 2-4 times higher than adults without diabetes.
  • Kidney disease – Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, accounting for 44 percent of new cases in 2005.
  • Blindness – Diabetic retinopathy causes 12,000 to 24,000 new cases of blindness each year, making diabetes the leading cause of new cases of blindness in adults 20-74 years of age.
  • Amputations – More than 60 percent of non-traumatic, lower-limb amputations occur in people with diabetes.

National Kidney Foundation of Michigan