Diabetes Kills 3.16M a Year Worldwide

ByJOANNA SCHAFFHAUSEN

Nov. 9, 2006 — -- DIABETES TAKES HEAVY GLOBAL TOLL On top of the almost 1 million deaths from diabetes, high blood sugar levels also contributed to more than 2 million deaths from heart disease, according to new research that included data from 52 countries. Doctors from the Harvard School of Public Health say that the combined total of 3.16 million deaths worldwide means that high blood sugar is a problem comparable to smoking, which causes 4.8 million annual deaths; high cholesterol, which is responsible for 3.9 million annual deaths; and overweight and obesity, which contribute to 2.4 million deaths each year. These findings were published in the most recent issue of Lancet.

BEAT DIABETES TWO WAYS Eating better and exercising more can help stave off diabetes in people who are already showing signs of poor blood sugar control, according to new research published in the Lancet. A Finnish study found that counseling people with prediabetes to lose weight through a better diet and at least 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity a day led to a 58 percent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

PAGING DR. GOOGLE? Researchers in Australia put Google's search engine to the test by plugging in symptoms from 26 difficult and unusual medical cases that had been profiled in the New England Journal of Medicine. Google returned the correct diagnosis 58 percent of the time. Researchers conclude that Google may be a good tool for doctors struggling with unusual cases, according to an article in the British Medical Journal.

STAT is a brief look at the latest medical research and is compiled by Joanna Schaffhausen, who holds a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience. She works in the ABC News Medical Unit, evaluating medical studies, abstracts and news releases.

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