Dr. Keith Roach: Avoid excess refined sugar, diabetes or not
Dear Dr. Roach: My husband’s recent lab work showed that he had a glucose reading of 72 (82-115 is considered a healthy range). Is this a precursor to diabetes? Should he be staying away from refined sugar? His father had diabetes and had his leg amputated. I do not want this to happen to my husband. Please let me know if there is anything we can do to keep him in good health.
Dear D.H.: Diabetes mellitus, sometimes called “sugar diabetes,” is caused by a lack of or resistance to insulin, eventually causing blood sugar to go up. Your husband’s blood sugar is below the limits of the laboratory. If anything, it’s too low, not too high. A too-low blood sugar is called “hypoglycemia,” but I wouldn’t be concerned about that diagnosis — 72 is considered normal in most labs, and blood that sits around in the lab for a few hours before being run often leads to an artificially low reading. I don’t think you need to worry about diabetes based on this reading.
Everyone should stay away from excess refined sugar, though, especially someone with a family history of diabetes. A healthy diet, regular exercise and maintaining a good weight are the most effective ways of preventing diabetes.
Dear Dr. Roach: My sister has what I consider to be an irrational fear of lead poisoning when it comes to her 6-year-old son. For instance, she is afraid for anyone to sit on a particular painted chair for fear of cross-contamination to other parts of the house where her son might have contact.
Has she been misinformed on this issue, or am I just ignorant?
Dear P.A.: Lead poisoning is a potential problem that causes serious complications, especially for children. Since regulations on tetraethyl leaded gasoline were imposed, the banning of lead solder to seal cans and the stringent limitation of lead in paints, the incidence of high blood levels of this metal have greatly decreased. Lead isn’t absorbed through the skin. The worry of cross-contamination from the painted chair isn’t justified. Your sister is creating an unhealthy fear in her son about an issue that doesn’t merit such fear.
Email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu.