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September 30, 2005

Diabetes Test Fails Miserably

Topics: Medicine

diabetes_tests.jpgA recent article reports that experts fear diabetes testing has failed to detect the disease in thousands of Asians who are unaware that they have the condition.

"Researchers at Hong Kong Chinese University said they believed the test, which worked well with Caucasians, was not suited to Asian subjects," the article states.

"We believe it is probably because of the genetic differences between Caucasians and Asians, but we cannot be sure," Chan Wing-bun, part of the university research team, told AFP.

The study found that the test recommended by the World Health Organization missed diabetes in 40% of those tested, all of whom were Asian.

I don't doubt that the study is correct. In fact, it confirms what many experts have been saying for years.

The insensitive test that was investigated is most likely based on each participant's fasting glucose level. Diagnosis using the procedure is simple: if you wake up in the morning and your blood sugar is over 125 mg/dL you have diabetes.

However, what is reported incorrectly is that the test works on Caucasians but not Asians. In reality, the fasting glucose criteria is ineffective on both populations.

Fasting glucose levels become elevated only after the disease has progressed, a process that can take decades. By this time, years of flucuating blood sugar levels and undetected hyperglycemia have wrecked havoc on the person's body and the diagnosis usually coincides with the revelation of other complications such as retinopathy, neuropathy, heart disease, or kidney failure, to name a few.

Sadly, the complications could have been avoided if diagnosis and treatment had occured earlier.

A second mistake by the AFP is that is that the fasting glucose test hasn't misdiagnosed "thousands". It has left millions with diabetes undetected.

Yes, the most common test for diabetes is unacceptable for Asians. It is also unacceptable for all other races.

Posted by tim at September 30, 2005 3:52 PM

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