Hollywood Hopes For Final Go-Round With Diabetes With Halle Berry
Adele Slaughter, Spotlight Health
With medical adviser Stephen A. Shoop, M.D.
With a string of critically acclaimed films, Oscar winner
Halle Berry seems to be riding her own carousel of success this year. But the
stark reality is that every day Berry has to deal with the ups and downs of
blood glucose levels.
"I am diabetic," says Berry. "So anytime there's a chance to go out and
support an organization that supports finding a cure for diabetes, I'm there."
Recently, Berry attended the Carousel of Hope fundraiser in Los Angeles, and
was joined by a veritable who's who of Hollywood including: Sir Elton John,
Sting, Jay Leno, Sir Sidney Poitier, Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Hanks
and wife Rita Wilson, Larry King, Morgan Fairchild, James Belushi, and Ray Romano.
Held once every two years, the Carousel of Hope has been chaired for the last
25 years by Barbara and Marvin Davis. This year's event raised over $ 4.5 million
to benefit the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes.
"I come back to this event because diabetes hasn't been conquered," says Poitier,
who received the Brass Ring Award. "I think it is wonderful that the wealth
turns out to help a good cause. And yes, some of my family members have diabetes
and it is hard to watch them struggle with the disease."
"I'm here at the Carousel of Hope because the money that has been raised is
really making a difference," says Belushi. "Progress is really being made in
juvenile diabetes right now."
The fourth-leading cause of death in the US, diabetes claims more than 180,000
lives each year. It is estimated that 16 million Americans are currently living
with the disease, with 2 million afflicted by type 1 or juvenile onset diabetes.
"My little sister is a diabetic," says Nancy Davis. "She was diagnosed when
she was seven years old. My mother was a desperate mom who couldn't bear the
thought of her daughter having this disease where she would have to have shots
every single day of her life. So she started the Barbara Davis Center when we
lived in Denver. There was nothing in the five-state area to help treat any
child with diabetes, and today they have treated so many kids."
"In fact, 12,000 children are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes every year," says
Peter Chase, a diabetes expert and professor of pediatrics at the University
of Colorado. "At the Barbara Davis Center, we saw 450 children in 1980, and
today we follow over 4,000 men, women, and children with the disease."
Type 1 diabetes, also called childhood diabetes, is a chronic, genetically determined
metabolic disorder that damages the pancreas, preventing it from producing insulin.
Insulin is a hormone which the body requires to make use of glucose -- the fuel
for the body's myriad processes. Type 1 diabetes destroys the islet cells in
the pancreas responsible for producing insulin.
Insulin is not a cure, but a treatment for diabetes.
Adult onset or type 2 diabetes, usually presents after the age of 13. Individuals
with this form of diabetes have a pancreas that still produces insulin, though
not adequately. They also have "insulin resistance", which means that the body's
tissues do not respond normally to insulin. But patients with type 2 diabetes
can often control the disease through diet, exercise, and oral medications rather
than by the use of insulin injections.
And diabetes can affect anyone no matter what their status.
"Once you're a diabetic, you're pretty much a diabetic," says Berry. "I have
adult onset diabetes. I was diagnosed when I passed out one day. I've gotten
my diabetes to a really manageable place. So I don't have really any complications
due to it, but I still have to deal with it and check my blood many times a
"I have adult onset diabetes," says King. "I watch my sugar and I keep my weight
down. I never have really high readings in my blood sugar."
"My mother and brother passed away because of complications from the disease,"
says Fairchild. "I try to keep my weight down. America has a problem with obesity,
and we know obesity puts people at a greater risk. Plus, we have more diabetes
in young children than we've ever had. It's time for us to get up and get going
- like doing more walking."
"The new news is in islet cell and stem cell research," says Barbara Davis "We're
looking for a vaccine to prevent diabetes. We have been looking at newborn babies
to see if they have the cells and predisposition for diabetes. We are developing
ways of treating these babies."
"So many things are happening in research," says Chase, who also authored Understanding
Diabetes . "In the last three years it has become possible to look at genes
in such a way that hopefully soon we will be able to isolate the messenger and
proteins that cause diabetes."
"We're in phase 2 trials in which a drug company has manufactured 'altered peptide
ligand,' which is from the B chain of insulin," explains Chase. "This has the
potential to become a vaccine. We know it doesn't cause any damage to people.
Now we have to see if it can stop diabetes."
And that's not all. Chase reports that many different vaccines are being studied
all over the world. In America, the National Institutes of Health set up a coalition
called Diabetes Prevention Trial 1, which has been extended for an additional
seven years, and renamed DPT-Trialnet.
Currently, DPT-Trialnet is studying a group of diabetics treated with an oral
insulin to see if they will develop an immune response to prevent the disease.
"Now we can tell who will develop diabetes by the antibodies in their blood,"
says Chase. "They have an allergy to their own islet cells. We are treating
them to see if we can prevent the disease. People with a relative with type
1 diabetes can get screened by calling 800-425-8361."
"It is an exciting time," adds Chase. "Because we know we will be able to prevent
diabetes, we just have to keep trying."
"Today we have wonderful, wonderful things," says Davis. "We have a wristwatch
you can look at and read your blood sugar all through the day. And someday we
will have a vaccine to prevent it from happening altogether. So there is much
to give us hope."
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Created: 10/30/2002  - Adele Slaughter and Stephen A. Shoop, M.