Is this relevant?

Is this relevant?

According to research published today in the Journal of Biomedical Informatics having a history of viral infections and chlamydia increases the risk for diabetes by almost as much as having a high body mass index. Conversely being prone to migraines reduces the risk of diabetes by the same amount as being 29 years younger.

These findings are based on electronic health records of 9,948 people from 50 states. The records included vital signs, prescription medications and reported ailments – but not patient names. The researchers used half of the records to create an algorithm that would predict the likeliness of someone having diabetes; they then tested this algorithm on the other half.

Now while this information is interesting the question is, is it relevant?  Will knowing that viral infections or having chlamydia increases the risk for diabetes change anything. Will physicians armed with this information do anything different?

It’s a well-known fact that while diabetes continues to grow epidemic rates there is substantial percentage of patients who have diabetes but have not been officially diagnosed with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) there are more 8 million patients who have diabetes but have not yet been diagnosed with diabetes. A staggering number when one considers the economic and health implications of poorly controlled diabetes. The fact is a patient can’t treat a disease they don’t know they have, so it stands to reason that these undiagnosed patients are poorly controlled.

Just the other day the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 86 million adults – more than 1 in 3 have prediabetes. Now before we go any further let’s be clear that we absolutely hate the term prediabetes, by our way of thinking either a patient has diabetes or they don’t. Or as Momma Kliff used to say there is no such thing as kinda pregnant.

Think about this for a moment just what is a patient supposed to do when they are told they have “prediabetes”.  Since prediabetes is not recognized as a disease there are no drugs approved to treat it, nor is there a protocol for treating this non-disease. Heck there isn’t even a test a physician can use to diagnose this non-disease. It’s equally true that even if a patient was informed that they had pre-diabetes and then took steps to prevent this pre-diabetes from developing into “real” diabetes that these steps will be successful.

Back in the day when the term pre-diabetes started to appear we speculated that the only people happy about this term where drug and devices companies. Think of what it would mean to these companies if pre-diabetes went from a non-disease to being recognized as an actual disease. That’s another 86 million potential customers, talk about expanding the market.

Listen we don’t want to dump on the researchers from UCLA who did this study, nor do we want to dump on the many who use the term pre-diabetes as if it was a real disease. But seriously does this research or the term pre-diabetes do anything more than muddy already muddy waters. Put another way would a patient “diagnosed” with pre-diabetes take any action based on this information. While some may our guess is the majority would not. Why deal with something that may or may not happen. Would it not be human nature to deal with issues that actually exist not one that may or may not exist in the future?

This is like knowing that there is an association between a woman’s breast size and diabetes. An interesting tidbit but hardly actionable information. What like all of sudden a woman would go out and have breast augmentation surgery to avoid developing diabetes.

This wacky world is filled with information like this, interesting yet hardly actionable. And as we noted just the other day we suspect that the goal of research like this is simple, get more money to do more research.

A secondary goal is to give Diabetic Investor some great copy and a chance to rant a little. But we’d be more than delighted to skip this great copy and as everyone knows we have a plethora of great copy thanks to our wine drinking friends in France, our equally good friends located in Libertyville, Illinois and of course that crusading cardiologist. Thanks to this wacky world the one thing we don’t worry about is having more than enough things to write about. We’ve said it before and will say it again this wacky world is the gift that keeps on giving.

So we’re willing to make this deal; we’ll stop making fun of all this useless research when these researchers stop doing useless research.