Health Front: Good Diabetes News, Texting and Driving

By DR. JERRY DeCAPUA, TRT Contributing Writer

• A recent study suggests that roughly one-third of people with type-1 diabetes still produce insulin. Despite the long-held idea that type-1 diabetics cannot produce insulin, researchers report in the journal Diabetes Care that a good percentage do in fact secrete the hormone in a small way. Those type -1 diabetics that do secrete insulin now become a true subset of the type 1 population, which has important clinical and treatment implications.

Researchers examined more than 900 type-1 diabetics ranging in age from 5 to 88, and found that a peptide (protein), a byproduct of insulin production, was present in patients of all ages. Higher concentrations of the peptide were found in those that were diagnosed as diabetics later in adulthood. The researchers concluded that there are key differences in type-1 diabetes diagnosed during childhood and type-1 that develops during adulthood.

These promising findings will initiate further research on targeted therapies and diets that could prolong insulin production, helping type-1 diabetes patients better manage their disease and reduce complications. New management programs could replace the insulin pump with potential immunotherapy treatments.

• Texting and driving is inappropriate for anyone. However, the element of risk for texting and driving is higher for middle-aged drivers than it is for younger drivers, according to new research. Study author Randall Commissaris, professor at Wayne State University, “does not want to misrepresent that his research in any way promotes texting and driving among young drivers. But today more and more older people are texting while driving, not just the young,” he states.

While systematically road-testing a range of drivers from age 18 to 59, they found that the younger drivers would go into an oncoming lane or shoulder while texting 25 percent of the time. However, virtually 100 percent of the oldest drivers drifted into the oncoming lane while texting.

The researchers divided the volunteers into four age categories: 18 to 24; 25 to 34; 35 to 44; and 45 to 59. The driving simulator mimicked driving on a two-lane country road at 50 to 60 miles per hour. Overall, two-thirds of the drivers committed “lane excursions.” But digging a little deeper, investigators found that nearly all of those in the 45 to 59 age group made such driving mistakes, often into oncoming traffic.

“The findings were very surprising to us,” said Commissaris, “because most of the literature on distracted driving suggests that mature drivers are better able to manage distractions. Whether it’s being involved in a cellphone conversation, talking with passengers, or checking maps. Older drivers should not take the attitude that they are better able to manage distractions. They’re not.”
Most of the current anti-texting-while driving messaging is presently aimed at teens and young drivers, notes the Governors’ Highway Safety Association. The new message to all drivers is to put your phone away and focus on the road. It is also dangerous to change CDs while driving.

• “They’re blind as a bat,” might be truer than you thought. Some blind people develop an alternate sense – called echolocation – to help them see, a new study reports in Psychological Science.
This means that “some blind people use echolocation to assess their environment and find their way around,” said study author Gavin Buckingham, psychological scientist at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland.

“They will either snap their fingers or click their tongue to bounce sound waves off objects, a skill often associated with bats,” notes Buckingham. Blind people who use echolocation appear to rely on the visual areas of the brain to process echolocation information.

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