It's not because I'm fat... I've got a virus!


Today I have to go see the dietician. I am, as some of you know, diabetic. When asked I sometimes say that the Dalai Lama made me a diabetic... because I was diagnosed with diabetes at a time when I was stressed out over arrangements for his visit to West Belfast... It was also a week before the birth of my second son Ciaran... so at other times I claim that it was the stress of his impending arrival that was the decisive factor... Typical of me, with other people it is the expectant mother who becomes diabetic, I had to be different! But the fact of the matter is that whilst stress has been shown to contribute to the onset of type-2 diabetes, it is only a minor and possibly a secondary factor.
Much more important is our genes, and in my case it is a nice little gift that my Dad gave to my eldest brother and me. However, both my Dad and brother got diabetes much later in life, suggesting that there was something else at work with me. It could be the stress I was under at that time, but it is much more likely to have been my poor diet (great in quantity but not necessarily quality), an inability to say no to food or leave anything on my plate (which I suppose I could blame my Mum for...) and a more sedentary lifestyle than previous generations.

In all of this I am not atypical of the current "epidemic" of type 2 diabetes cases that are cropping up in their 30s and 40s (as opposed to 50s and 60s as in previous generations)...

But apparently future generations may be saved from all this, because we shouldn't blame it on our mums, dads, or the Dalai Lama. It is apparenty the fault of a virus. But then... isn't everything!

News last week suggested that 'scientists' have discovered that a gastric virus may be associated with both Type 1 & 2 diabetes, raising hopes of a 'vaccine' to prevent diabetes.
This, again, shows the alarming tendency within the media to simplify science, as seen, for example, in some of the climate change stories. So far as I have been able to see, the particular virus occurs up to 60% of Type 1 patients and only 40% of Type 2 diabetics, and there is no causal link yet demonstrated. So even if a vaccine for this bug where to be developed, there is no telling whether it would actually prevent anyone from developing diabetes, nor indeed if killing off this bug might not have other serious deliterious side-effects. But why let the complexity of scientific truth stand in the way of a good headline.

In this, as in so much else, we want someone, other than ourselves, to blame. I could make a significant change to my condition today if I would simply change my eating habits.

But perhaps I'll just tell the dietician today that it's not my fault... It's a virus...

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