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3 myths about diabetes

December 21, 2011 1:49:43 PM PST
Millions of Americans deal with Diabetes every day, and now doctors are discussing common myths with the disease.

Paul Tibbits Jr. has been a type I diabetic since he was child. He's learned to live with the illness, and tries to exercise and watch his diet to stay healthy.

He says it takes planning but what's most difficult is dealing with people's misconceptions.

"People assume , oh you take a shot of insulin or you take a pill and everything's fine and it's not. You have to make decisions every single day that affect your blood sugar levels," he said.

According to the National Institutes of Health, diabetes affects 25.8 million people of all ages. That's over 8 percent of the U.S. population.

Yet many Americans know little about it. The stories about diabetes have become legend and many are wrong.

Let's clear up 3 common myths.

First, eating too much sugar causes diabetes

Not true. It's thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and lifestyle factors, but eating too much sugar can create weight gain.

Myth #2: Only overweight people get diabetes.

It's true the being overweight is a risk factor for type II diabetes, but family history, ethnicity and age also play a role

"People who are thin or just a little bit overweight can have diabetes," said Dr. Linda Yau.

And myth # 3, diabetes is not serious.

"That's not true. It's probably the biggest risk factor for people going on dialysis long term, it's also one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease and stroke."

Having high blood sugar damages blood vessels and can affect every part of the body something Tibbits.

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