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With 336 million diabetics worldwide, says IDF, diabetes only becoming more common


The International Diabetes Federation announced Tuesday that approximately 366 million people around the world now have diabetes, and the disease is responsible for 4.6 million deaths every year, or one death every seven seconds.

The announcement was made in Lisbon, Portugal during the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) Meet.

"The clock is ticking for the world's leaders, we expect action from their meeting next week at the United Nations that will halt diabetes' relentlessly upwards trajectory," said IDF President Jean Claude Mbanya. "The IDF's latest Atlas data are proof indeed that diabetes is a massive challenge the world can no longer afford to ignore. In 2011 one person is dying from diabetes every seven seconds."

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Diabetes is a chronic disease that slowly drives the blood sugar up, affecting the body’s other major organs. There are two types of diabetes. Type I is usually found in children but can be found in adults. In Type I diabetes, the pancreas has completely stopped making insulin, making the person with the disease dependent upon insulin injections or an insulin pump. Type II diabetes is usually associated with poor diet and obesity and can be found in children or adults. With Type II diabetes, the pancreas still produces insulin but not as well as it should. Type II diabetes can be managed with medication and diet. A person with diabetes has a higher risk of diseases like stroke, heart failure, kidney and nerve failure and blindness.

The new figures showing the prevalence and cost of both types of diabetes will be published in the fifth edition of the Diabetes Atlas, the authoritative guide to diabetes that is produced and distributed by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).

In October 2009, the last edition produced, the IDF had estimated the number of diabetics at 285 million for 2010. A separate study published in the Lancet Medical Journal in June this year had already put the figure at a much higher 347 million.

The cost of medicating patients who have diabetes is becoming manageable, with older classes of drugs having cheap, generic versions available. However, new and better drugs are being developed, even though they are out of the cost range of many people who have diabetes. Global drug manufacturers like Sanofi, Eli Lilly and Novo Nordisk are working on these new drugs and hoping to extend treatment options for patients with diabetes.

Sales of diabetes medication rose to $35 billion globally last year and is expected to reach figures as high as $48 billion by 2015.