Taking Drugs

Gretchen Becker Health Guide
  • One thing I hear a lot from people who have just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is, "I don't want to take drugs."

     

    I can understand this point of view, because I felt the same way when I was diagnosed. I'd been unusually healthy until then, and the only drugs I took were occasional antihistamines in hay fever season and the occasional aspirin, maybe two or three times a year.

     

    My doctor wanted me to take metformin, which had just come on the market. At that time (1996), no one knew how it worked. I told him I didn't want to take a drug if no one knew how it worked. How could we be sure it didn't cause damage?

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    His response?

     

    "Yes. But we do know how high blood sugars work, and it's not a pretty picture."

     

    So I realized I was using faulty logic.

     

    Many people with type 2 are willing to accept higher blood glucose (BG) levels in order to avoid taking drugs. Many people are willing to take supplements with unknown effects, and sometimes unknown serious side effects. Somehow they think the supplements are OK because they're natural. Well, strychnine and cyanide are also natural. That's not a viable argument.

     

    Yes, I know the knee-jerk response that pharmaceutical companies are greedy people who care more for profits than for safety. That's probably true in many cases. But is there any reason to believe that people who hawk supplements are any different?

     

    What we need to keep in mind that having high BG levels is the same as taking a drug with harmful side effects. High BG levels cause damage. We know that. There's no argument there.

     

    Successful diabetes control is not being off all drugs. Successful diabetes control is having normal BG levels. If you can do that with diet alone, that's great. But if you can't, don't avoid drugs that help you just because you don't want to take drugs.

     

    They do now know how metformin works. It affects an energy-sensing compound called AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase) and keeps the liver from producing too much glucose. There's also some evidence that it reduces the risk of cancer. It's also cheap now, as generic forms are available.

     

    Another drug might be better for you. We're all slightly different metabolically and have different economic needs. But don't be fooled into accepting high BG levels just because you don't want to take any drugs.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

Published On: February 14, 2012