Diabetes Rising is a strange name for the most readable book ever written about diabetes. But diabetes is a strange disease, as Dan Hurley shows in the book that Kaplan published yesterday.
The publisher sent me galley proofs of the new book several months ago. I've been waiting to review it until it became generally available.
Of the hundreds of books on diabetes that publishers and authors send me every year, I don't usually review any of them. I'll keep one or two of them in my bookshelf for reference, but I give away the vast majority of them, usually to my local library.
Diabetes Rising is the exception because its author has exceptional qualifications to write about it. Dan Hurley is a medical journalist who regularly contributes to the science section of The New York Times as well as to many other major publications. He earned his other relevant qualification 34 years ago at the age of 18. That's when he got type 1 diabetes.
Actually, to call this book Diabetes Rising doesn't do justice to its broad scope. This is the main reason why I say the book has a strange name.
Just the first third of the book is about the rising epidemic of diabetes. In the second third of the book Hurley explores five hypotheses that attempt to explain the reasons behind the skyrocketing rates of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In the final part he explores four emerging remedies.
In tracing the rise of diabetes, Hurley covers the entire known history of diabetes. When I realized that this was where he was starting, my first thought was to race through that section. I'd read it all before, or so I thought. But those first 86 pages taught me a lot that I never knew before. And that learning was painless because Hurley is such an engrossing writer.
Even more interesting to all of us with diabetes is his next section. Here he examines five leading scientific hypotheses that offer an explanation for the recent rise in the number of us who have diabetes:
2. The sunshine hypothesis holds that the increased time spent indoors is reducing children's exposure to sunlight, which in turn reduces their level of vitamin D. Reduced levels of vitamin D because of reduced exposure to sunshine are linked to autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes.
3. The hygiene hypothesis connects the lack of exposure to once-prevalent pathogens with autoimmune hypersensitivity. This leads to the destruction of the body's insulin-producing beta cells by rogue white blood cells.
4. The cow's milk hypothesis maintains that exposure to cow's milk in infant formula during the first six months of life wreaks havoc on the immune system and increases the risk of later developing type 1 diabetes.
5. The POP hypothesis postulates that exposure to persistent organic pollutants increases the risk of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.