10 facts about diabetes

10 Fun Facts about Diabetes

Nearly 30 million Americans are living with diabetes. Do you know everything there is to know about the disease? Here are some fun facts you might not have known before. 

  1. The first mention of diabetes was in 1,500 BC on Egyptian papyrus. It described a disease characterized by frequent urination. 
  2. The word diabetes means “passing through” or “flowing through,” referring to frequent urination. It was coined by Greek physician Aretaeus of Cappodocia (81-133 AD). He described a condition characterized by thirst, frequent urination, and weight loss.
  3. Mellitus means “honey sweet.” The English doctor Thomas Willis added mellitus to diabetes in 1675, referring to the sugar in the urine of those with the condition.
  4. Just because someone in your family has it doesn’t mean you will. Although there is a strong chance, a study done on twins found that if one twin has type 1, the other has a 50 percent chance of developing diabetes. With type 2, the chance goes up to 75 percent. 
  5. The first successful treatment for diabetes was in 1922. Canadian doctor Frederick Banting first administered insulin to 14-year-old Leonard Thompson on January 11, 1922. He won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1923. Banting and his team sold the patent for insulin to the University of Toronto for a half dollar.
  6. It wasn’t until the 1980s that portable blood glucose meters were sold in America.
  7. Today, insulin is mostly made from a special E. coli bacteria strain that scientists genetically modified to make insulin. But in the past, it was made from pig pancreases. It would take 2 tons of pig pancreases to make only 8 ounces of insulin.
  8. In 1916, a doctor named Frederick M. Allen prescribed whiskey mixed with black coffee for those with diabetes. They were to drink this (or clear soup) every 2 hours for 5 days, after which they started a low-carb diet. This plan was the most effective treatment of its time. 
  9. The first closed-loop insulin system was approved by the FDA in 2016 – the Minimed 670G. In 2017, the first glucose meter without finger pricks became available – the FreeStyle Libre
  10. These days, diabetes technology has come a long way. Monitoring devices can sync with your smartphone, and Apple is even selling the One Drop glucose meter in its stores.