Berry's Miracle Cure Probably Misdiagnosis, Say Docs

Halle Berry caused a stir after saying she'd weaned herself off insulin.

ByABC News
November 5, 2007, 5:22 PM

Nov. 6, 2007— -- Despite her claims to the contrary, Halle Berry did not cure herself of Type 1 diabetes, doctors told ABC, for one simple reason -- Type 1 diabetes is incurable.

"I've managed to wean myself off insulin, so now I'd like to put myself in the Type 2 category," the Web site quotes the Academy Award winning actress as saying last week.

Diabetics quickly took to the blogosphere to condemn Berry for claiming that a change in diet could cure Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease in which the pancreas permanently fails to produce insulin, the vital hormone that regulates sugar levels in the blood.

Type 1 diabetes, once known as juvenile-onset diabetes, usually strikes children who must remain on insulin therapy for their entire lives, routinely monitoring their blood-sugar levels and taking injections.

Those doctors interviewed agreed that if Berry was truly a Type 1 diabetic, it would be suicide to simply stop taking insulin. They surmised that the 41-year-old actress was either mistaken, misinformed or misdiagnosed, and probably always had Type 2, which tends to affect people later in life and can in some cases be overcome with a change in diet.

"When someone really has Type 1, it means their immune system has destroyed the insulin producing part of pancreas. In that case, there is no way to wean yourself off insulin [treatments]," said Dr. Francine Kaufman, a diabetes expert at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

Some 20.8 million people -- 7 percent of the population -- have diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health. African-Americans, however, are particularly at risk. According to institute statistics, 3.2 million black Americans, or 13.3 percent of all non-Hispanic blacks, have the disease.

Berry's mother is white and her father is black.

Type 2 tends to affect the unfit and obese; 90 percent of all Type 2 patients are overweight. Berry, however, was a healthy 22-year-old working on the TV show "Living Dolls" in 1989 when she was first diagnosed, she told the Daily Mail in 2005.