The Silent Killer Disease That Not Many Women Are Aware Of

World Diabetes Day takes place on the 14th of Novemeber every year, which was created in 1991 by World Health Organization in response to the growing concerns about health threats posed by diabetes.  

Back in July 2018, Datuk Dr Mustaffa Embong, executive chairman of the National Diabetes Institute (Nadi) has revealed that Malaysia has the highest rate of diabetes in Asia and one of the highest in the world. The statistics also suggest that almost half of Malaysians do know that they suffer with diabetes, but refuse to change their diet or lifestyle. That is why diabetes is also sometimes known as the “silent killer”.

Fun fact: 14th November is also the birthday of Sir Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin together with Charles Best in 1922.

Shockingly, the severity of diabetes among women may be more as compared to men.

Funny how we think that this is a disease that does not discriminate. Globally, there are about 199 million women living with diabetes, with the disease reported to be the ninth leading cause of death in women around world.

Diabetic women not only suffers greater cardiovascular risks than men, but a two-fold increase in risk of coronary heart disease as compared to male and four times the risk of coronary heart disease death.

How lifestyle can contribute to diabetes

That being said, although there’s no cure for diabetes, it can still be controlled by keeping the blood sugar level close to normal with the help of proper meal planning, exercise and medicine along with treatments prescribed by doctors.

Here are some lifestyle or habits which could lead to diabetic issues that you need to take note of.

1. Too much red and processed meat

In Malaysia, we consume 48 kilograms of meat per capita, but according to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researches, a daily serving of red meat should be no larger than a deck of cards, as it increases the risk of adult-onset diabetes by 19%. Meanwhile, a daily serving of processed red meat increases the risk of diabetes to 51%.

2. SUGAR!!

Malaysians consume an average of 26 teaspoons of sugar daily, making us the eighth highest sugar users in the world. That’s 21 spoons more than the recommended dose of sugar, as we are the consumption limit should only be 5 teaspoons a day, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

3. Lack of sleep

Not only that,  lack of sleep also affect our good health. Data from a regional survey showed that Malaysians only get 6.4 hours of sleep on average, which is 1.6 hours short of the recommended 8 hours. One of the main reason of sleep deprivation, is because we spend most of our time going online on our mobile phones.

4. Internet addiction

On top of that, the addictiveness to internet poses a new threat to healthy living. Majority of the respondents from a survey done agreed that online activities actually prevents them from getting enough of sleep and physical activities.

Evidence shows that physical activity is an essential part of the daily maintenance of glucose levels. Reducing daily activities and regular exercise causes acute changes in the body that associates with diabetes.

The complications

It was found that 49% of women and 44% of men in Malaysia are overweight or obese. This can be a predisposing factor for diabetes mellitus because the insulin will not be able to function properly due to the extra amount of fats in the body.

The main function of insulin is to allow the sugar in the blood to enter the muscle and tissue cells. However because of the increased fat in the body, the muscle and tissue cells become resistant to insulin which then leads to high blood sugar level in blood, called hyperglycemia and finally diabetes.

Kidney disease is also another complication of diabetes that affects women more than men. This is because diabetic women usually suffers from lower level of estrogen. Other complications diabetic women are prone to are poor blood sugar control, obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and depression.

In fact, women should also keep an eye for symptoms such as vaginal dryness, urinal infection (UTI), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), any sexual issues such as low sexual drive and the amount of sweat the body produces whether it increases or decrease.

Hence, it is important for us to lead a healthy lifestyle to keep our body well from having diabetes. It’s hard, but try to refrain from indulging in sweet and oily food too often, and remember to exercise regularly.

The keyword in fighting against diabetes, is to empower — by empowering women to acknowledge the symptoms of diabetes and the knowledge of what they can do to prevent from having diabetes.

With that said, you can also head over to Ais Kacang and listen to the podcast on how to be fit.