Right now, there are 199 million women living with diabetes. By 2040, that number is expected to be 313 million. During this Diabetes Awareness Month, there is a special emphasis on how the disease affects women. Shamara Henderson of Cleveland used to be one of them.
Back in April, Henderson, 35, found out she was one of the 1.3 million Ohioans with diabetes.
“It was very, very scary,” she recalled. “I instantly started crying.”
Just a year earlier, she had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. It is something one in three American adults are living with, and half of them don't even know it.
“It was a wake-up call,” said Henderson. “I hate that it had to be a diagnosis to become a wake-up call, instead of when he told me I was pre-diabetic. But that was it. That's what changed me.”
Diabetes is also a leading cause of death among women. But Henderson didn't want to be another statistic.
She decided to make some drastic lifestyle changes and educate herself through diabetes classes.
“I just dropped candy,” Henderson explained. “I dropped sweets. I dropped pop, juice. I went straight to healthier eating and water, pretty much is what I lived off of.”
And the hard work paid off.
“I signed up for the first class and I was down ten pounds and it was like 30 days,” said Henderson.
At this point, Henderson has lost 45 lost pounds. She got her blood sugar in check and doesn't have to take her diabetes medication anymore.
“Up to 70% of the time, you can reverse or prevent the disease,” noted Dr. Betul Hatipoglu, an endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic.
She says diabetes doesn't have to be a death sentence.
“This is really huge,” Dr. Hatipoglu remarked. “We don't have probably any other disease that we can tell patients, with confidence, from the research, that you can do it.”
Dr. Hatipoglu says there is no drug on earth that can replace exercise. She says that, plus a healthy diet and quitting smoking are the best things you can do to prevent diabetes.