The estimated cost of diabetes is currently $13.5 billion per year — estimated to grow to $17 billion in 10 years.

It is also estimated that one million Canadians are living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. In recognition of Diabetes Awareness Month, the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) urges everyone to find out if they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and to encourage friends and family to get checked.

“Thanks to this research and innovation, there have been better health outcomes — life expectancy is improving for people with diabetes and the risk of complications is decreasing.”

Diabetes 101

Type 1 diabetes most commonly begins in childhood and occurs when the body is unable to produce insulin, a hormone that controls the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. The most common type of diabetes is type 2, where the body either cannot properly use insulin or it is not making enough of it. Both types of diabetes lead to high levels of glucose in the blood that may result in complications such as heart attack, kidney failure, blindness, and amputation.

For people living with diabetes, keeping blood glucose in a healthy range requires a careful balance of nutrition, regular medication, and physical activity, as well as regular monitoring. To help prevent complications such as heart attack and stroke, they may also need to manage other concurrent risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.

Diabetes is a complex disease, but it can be managed successfully with support from a strong diabetes care team of family, friends, and health-care professionals.

Advances in diabetes research

Since Dr. Frederick Banting and Dr. Charles Best’s discovery of insulin in Toronto in 1921, Canada has continued to lead the way in diabetes research. Toronto researcher Dr. Daniel Drucker has left his mark and expanded treatment options for people with type 2 diabetes by identifying and mimicking the hormones that contribute to the natural regulation of blood glucose in the body.

Through an impressive program of research that spanned from “lab bench to bedside,” Dr. Drucker has developed two new widely used types of drugs for type 2 diabetes, and his laboratory continues to be a source of scientific breakthroughs in diabetes research.

While innovative drugs remain the cornerstone of effective diabetes management, advances in technology are also changing life for people with diabetes. Insulin pumps are now commonplace, continuous blood glucose monitors are on the brink of widespread adoption, and devices combining pump and sensing functions to deliver insulin exactly when it is needed — in essence, an artificial pancreas — are in development.

Thanks to this research and innovation, there have been better health outcomes — life expectancy is improving for people with diabetes and the risk of complications is decreasing.

Diabetes Charter for Canada

This spring, the CDA launched the Diabetes Charter for Canada to empower Canadians with diabetes and their caregivers, and to promote an environment that will support optimal health outcomes for them. It seeks to address issues of misunderstanding and stigma, while outlining clear rights and responsibilities for people with diabetes, health-care providers, governments, educational institutions, workplaces, and the CDA. To date, almost 18,000 supporters have signed the Charter online, sharing a vision of improved diabetes care and support in Canada.

By developing the Charter and programs and services across Canada, the CDA is committed to working with the diabetes community and strives to ensure that people with diabetes reach their full health potential.