Keith Vaz: Diabetes was a real wake-up call

Keith, who is chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, is making sure his teenage children Luke and Anjali are aware of the condition and are tested regularly.

“Diabetes does run in families and if people are aware of that they can make changes to their life and delay the onset,” he says.

It’s not known for sure why people from Asian and African backgrounds are more prone to the condition but it may be due to the different way in which their muscles burn fat. One study concluded the rate among these communities in the UK was “astonishingly high”.

Keith adds: “Awareness is so critical. Our job is to harvest people and send them to their GPs.”

Medication and improvements in his diet mean that although there is no cure, Keith’s diabetes is under control.

“I’ve had to increase my tablets,” he says. “Diabetes will affect my health as I get older. If I don’t look after myself then blindness, liver failure and amputations are all concerns.

“I’m never going to go to a gym but I intend to get an exercise bike for my home.”

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Diabetes Could Double The Risk Of Esophageal Cancer In Patients With …

Diabetes, a component of metabolic syndrome, has previously been linked to Barrett’s esophagus — where the esophageal lining becomes similar to that of the stomach — but the prevalence of diabetes in patients with the esophageal disease has never been researched. Now, a new study has found that diabetes could double the risk of developing esophageal cancer in patients with Barrett’s esophagus.

“There has been a rising incidence of metabolic syndrome over the past decades, which seems to correlate with an increase in esophageal cancer,” lead researcher Prashanthi N. Thota, who presented the team’s findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, told MedPage Today.

People develop Barrett’s esophagus when their esophageal muscles fail to close tightly enough, and allow gastric acid to enter the esophagus. When this happens, it can damage, and eventually change the lining of the esophagus. These changes can eventually cause dysplasia — an increased population of immature cells — and possibly even cancer.

Thota’s team of researchers looked at data from 1,623 patients who had Barrett’s esophagus and were seen between 2000 and 2013. Of these patients, 274 also had diabetes or were diagnosed with it during the duration of the study.  After accounting for sex, race, and length of Barrett’s esophagus segment, the researchers found adenocarcinoma — cancer of the epithelium — in 15.8 percent of those without diabetes and 25.9 percent of those with diabetes during the 16-month follow-up. They also saw high-grade dysplasia or cancer in 17.9 percent of patients with diabetes compared to only 9.7 percent of those without.

Interestingly, the researchers also found that 61.9 percent of patients who had hypertension didn’t develop dysplasia compared to 56 percent of those who had hypertension — the researchers had expected the opposite. “I suspect that this relates to the use of antihypertensive drugs rather than the condition per se,” Thota told MedPage Today.

A 2012 study also found that diabetic men could have an increased risk for developing esophageal cancer. Looking at data from 17 other studies, the researchers concluded that diabetics had a “modestly increased risk” of esophageal cancer and adenocarcinomas, and that men were significantly more at risk. 

What is cerebral palsy?

Cerebral palsy is defined by a number of neurological conditions, which usually develop in the brain of a baby when it is either very young, newly born or still in the womb. This abnormal development causes damage to the brain, leading to problems with movement, posture and coordination as the child grows up.

What causes it?

Cerebral palsy is caused by damage to a part of the brain called the cerebrum, which controls the body’s muscles. The damage has a negative effect on the muscles and can inhibit their function.

In the past the condition was associated with problems during labour and birth, but now it is generally accepted these cause only around one in ten cases. Most cases occur due to damage to the brain before the child is born. This may occur due to:

  • A child with cerebral palsy being examined

    Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) – this is damage caused to the white matter of the brain, which in turn may be caused by a reduction in the child’s blood supply. An infection, such as rubella, caught by the mother during pregnancy, the mother having low blood pressure, premature birth or the mother using cocaine during pregnancy could all lead to the child’s brain being damaged.

  • Abnormal brain development – this could be caused by gene alterations that help the brain develop, infections such as Herpes or trauma to the unborn baby’s head.
  • Intracranial haemorrhage – meaning bleeding in the brain. This normally occurs when the unborn baby has a stroke (brought on by pre-existing weakenesses in the baby’s blood vessels, the mother’s high blood pressure, infection during pregnancy).
  • Damage after birth – lack of developed resistance to infections such as Meningitis can sometimes lead to brain damage in very early life.

What are the symptoms?

Cerebral palsy is divided into several different categories due to its varied symptoms. These include:

  • Spastic cerebral palsy – this affects around 70% of cases and is defined by some muscles becoming tight, weak and stiff, making control of movement difficult.
  • Ataxic cerebral palsy – here, problems include difficulty balancing, shaky movements of hands or feet, and speech problems.
  • Athetoid (dyskinetic) cerebral palsy – affects 10% of cases, whereby control of muscles is disrupted by spontaneous and unwanted irregular writhing movements. These may be the result of muscles changing very rapidly from being loose and to tight and tense. The muscles used for speech may also be affected, interfering with communication. Control of posture is also disrupted.
  • Mixed cerebral palsy – a combination of two or more of the above.

[adsense]The cerebrum (the part of the brain that is damaged) also partly controls sight, hearing and communcation ability, so those suffering from cerebral palsy can sometimes also experience:

  • Learning difficulties
  • Problems speaking or understanding others
  • Visual or hearing impairment

It has also been linked with other conditions, which sufferers often experience alongside cerebral palsy, such as Epilepsy, scoliosis and incontinence.

How is it treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for cerebral palsy, but there are many treatments and therapies available to manage the condition. The patient and his or her family usually work very closely with health professionals to find the best way to deal with it. Physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy can also play important roles. Medication is available to relax particularly stiff muscles and surgical procedures have been developed to help combat feeding and drooling problems.

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