Campaign aims to educate men about type 2 diabetes

NEW YORK Mon Sep 8, 2008 3:33pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Men with type 2 diabetes know the basics about the disease and its main complications - heart disease, blindness, kidney failure - but they seem to know very little about the issues that affect their quality of life, like depression and sexual dysfunction, according to results of a survey released today by the American Diabetes Association.

The survey also shows that men are "really uncomfortable talking about these issues with their physician" -- yet are hungry for more information, Dr. Richard M. Bergenstal, Vice President, Medicine & Science at the American Diabetes Association noted in a telephone interview with Reuters Health.

To bridge the information gap, the American Diabetes Association today announced the launch of a multifaceted nationwide campaign to spotlight the often overlooked physical, emotional and sexual health issues affecting the roughly 12 million American men with diabetes.

"Depression is twice as common in diabetes - 1 in 3 people will have it; erectile dysfunction -- two to five times as common; sleep apnea -- twice as common; low testosterone -- twice as common," Bergenstal noted. "All of these issues people don't always put together with diabetes and they are so much more common in diabetes."

The online survey involved 1,000 men with type 2 diabetes, age 40 to 60 years old, and 1,000 female spouses of men with the disease.

Many men indicated that type 2 diabetes puts a damper on their life, in general, and their sex life. More than one third admitted to having four or more symptoms associated with low testosterone such as depressed mood, erectile dysfunction and fatigue, but two thirds admitted to knowing little, if anything, about the condition. These men also reported a recent decline in their on-the-job performance.

Overall, only 30 percent of men surveyed claimed to know "a lot" about their disease and only 25 percent reported eating balanced and nutritious meals.

Key components of the American Diabetes Association men's health campaign include a handbook called The Modern Man's Guide to Living with Diabetes, an enhanced men's health section on the association's website (www.diabetes.org/menshealth) and public service announcements.

"Men can take small steps that can have a big impact on their ability to better manage their diabetes," Bergenstal said. "Doing what they know, like staying active, sticking to a healthful diet, learning about increased risks for related conditions, and talking with a doctor if they are suffering from bothersome symptoms, is the key to managing diabetes today."

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