diabetesDiabetes is a disease in which blood glucose levels are above normal. When you have diabetes, your body either does not make enough insulin or cannot use its own insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert starches and other food into physical energy. The resulting lack of insulin prevents glucose from getting into the cells to fuel energy. As a rule, most of what is eaten is broken down into glucose. Without an adequate supply of insulin, sugar builds up in the blood stream. Take the CDC Diabetes Risk Quiz.

Diabetes and Men

Though nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes, recent findings show that gender-specific health attitudes and behaviors have resulted in shorter and less healthy lives for men in the United States comparatively to women.  For example, from the year 1999 and forward, the number of men with diabetes began to increase at a faster rate than women.

  • From 1980 to 1998, the number of men and women diagnosed with diabetes was similar
  • Since 1999, the number of men with diabetes began to increase by 122% faster than women.
  • Erectile Dysfunction (ED) develops a decade or more earlier in men who have diabetes than with men who do not.
  • 50% of men with diabetes over the age of 50 report signs of ED.

The Modern Man’s Guide to Living Well with Diabetes, American Diabetes Association

What are the types of diabetes?

An estimated 79 million adults have pre-diabetes. It is a condition in which individuals have blood glucose levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. If early lifestyle measures, weight loss and healthy changes in diet take effect in a timely manner, the risk of Type-2 diabetes is greatly reduced.  It is well documented that people with pre-diabetes have a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Type 1 Diabetes
People with Type-1 diabetes produce very little or no insulin. In Type 1, the immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and the body does not produce insulin. People with this form of diabetes need injections of insulin every day in order to control the levels of glucose in their blood. If people with Type 1 diabetes do not have access to insulin, they can die.

Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 is sometimes called non-insulin dependent diabetes or adult-onset diabetes.   More than 90% of diabetics in the U.S. are Type 2. People with Type 2 diabetes do not usually require injections of insulin. Usually they can control the glucose in their blood by watching their diet, taking regular exercise, oral medication, and possibly insulin.

CDC: Diabetes Public Health Resource – Basics About Diabetes

What are the possible signs of diabetes in Men?

Although the following list below notes some of the common symptoms of diabetes, not everyone who is pre-diabetic or a diagnosed diabetic will experience all of the symptoms. People who think they are at risk should seek help from a qualified health professional.

  • Excessive thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Feeling very tired much of the time
  • Frequent urination
  • Very dry skin
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Men over the age of 50 who exhibit signs of erectile dysfunction (ED)

Men at Risk for developing Type 2 diabetes:

  • Over 45 years old
  • Overweight or obese
  • African American, Latino/Hispanic American, Native American, Asian American or Pacific Islander
  • Have one or more family members with diabetes

Facts and Complications Linked to Diabetes

  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death.
  • 2 out of 3 people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.
  • Diabetes is closely linked to the development of heart disease death rates (about 2 to 4 times higher in diabetics than in adults without diabetes)
  • Diabetes raises the risk for stroke 2 to 4 times higher than among people without it.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness amongst adults.
  • More than 60% of leg and foot amputations not related to accidents and injuries were performed on people with diabetes.

National Diabetes Fact Sheet 2011, CDC

The Good News about Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

The good news is that a large study, the Diabetes Prevention Program, showed that lifestyle interventions such as diet and exercise reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 58% over three years. The decrease was even greater – 71% – among adults aged 60 years or older.

American Diabetes Association: Food and Fitness

Weight Loss and Exercise

Clinical trials have shown that losing 5 to 7 percent of body weight – that’s 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person – and getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes by nearly 60 percent in those at high risk for developing the disease.

American Diabetes Association: Weight Loss

Effectively Managing Diabetes

Focus on controlling blood glucose, decreasing risks of complications and maximizing quality of life through greater nutrition, education, exercise, and relaxation activities. In summary:

  1. Maintain good control of blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol.
  2. Educate yourself about diabetes and how it relates to stress, obesity, heart disease and sexual function (e.g., erectile dysfunction and low testosterone).
  3. Identify and address potential complications as early as possible.
  4. Develop a partnership with your health care providers and support groups.

Adapted from National Diabetes Education Program, “Guiding Principles for Diabetes Care

American Diabetes Association: Diabetes Risk

American Diabetes Association: The path to understanding diabetes starts here.

CDC: Eat Right

American Diabetes Association: Recipes


Guiding Principles for Diabetes Care, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program, National Institutes for Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Link Between Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program, National Institutes for Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention