Diabetes - Silent Killer

Published: 6 Mar 2008

By Sowmya Rajagopalan, Research Analyst

Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects more than 180 million people worldwide. This is a condition where the pancreas does not function properly to produce sufficient insulin or alternatively when the body fails to effectively use the insulin produced. It is estimated that this disease is the fourth leading cause of global death by disease.

It can be broadly classified as two types:

Type I Diabetes: This condition is commonly referred to as insulin dependent diabetes. Patients suffer due to a lack of insulin and hence cannot live without an external supply of insulin.

The common symptoms affecting these people are excessive urination termed as "polyuria", excessive thirst "polydipsia", constant hunger, vision changes and fatigue.

Type II Diabetes: This condition is characterised by lack of effective use of insulin secreted in patient's body. This is largely due to excessive body weight and lack of physical activity.

The symptoms of this disease are insignificant to categorise the onset or prevalence of the disease in patients.


Diabetes though a simple condition, leaves a huge hole in the healthcare budget. In Europe diabetes is responsible for

2.4% of all deaths

1.9% of all years of life lost

2.4 % of all years of life lost in disability

2.1% of all disability adjusted life years

Diabetes is a hereditary disease. In Type I diabetes, the risk of a child being affected increases 10 fold if a parent is affected.

In families where no member has Type II diabetes, the lifetime risk of developing Type II diabetes is approximately 10%.

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