Meet Dr. Donnica Video Introduction TV Appearances

Diseases & Conditions Today on DrDonnica.com Clinical Trials Decisionnaires FAQs Top Tips Fast Facts Debunking Myths News Alerts Celebrity Speak Out Guest Experts Women's Health Champions Books Women's Health Resources

Mission Privacy Policy Sponsors Press Room What's New? Contact Us

This website is accredited by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.


Hope Award

Send to a Friend

Hollywood Hopes For Final Go-Round With Diabetes With Halle Berry

By 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."

Pervasive problem

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 day."

"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."

New hope

"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."

Spotlight Health is the leading creator of celebrity-featured health-issue awareness campaigns, connecting consumers with impassioned celebrities whose personal health battles can open eyes, dispel myths and change lives. Spotlight Health helps sufferers and caregivers meet the challenges of difficult health circumstances with understandable, in-depth medical information, compassionate support and the inspiration needed to make informed healthcare choices.

Created: 10/30/2002  -  Adele Slaughter and Stephen A. Shoop, M.

All the content contained herein is copyrighted pursuant to federal law. Duplication or use without
the express written permission of DrDonnica.com subjects the violator to both civil & criminal penalties.
Copyright © 2006 DrDonnica.com. All rights reserved.

Home | Today on DrDonnica.com | Meet Dr. Donnica | TV Appearances | Clinical Trials
Diseases & Conditions | Decisionnaires | Celebrity Speak Out | Guest Experts | Women's Health Champions
FAQs | Women’s Health Resources | Archive | Books & Tapes | Site Certification | Advanced Search
Mission | What’s New? | Press Room | Privacy Policy | Sponsors | Partners | Contact Us