The Upshur County Commission proclaims November Diabetes Awareness Month. Pictured, from left, are commission president Sam Nolte, Tennerton Lions member Ann Slaughter and commissioners Kristie Tenney and Terry Cutright.

BUCKHANNON – West Virginia has the highest number of diabetics in the nation.

Representative from the Tennerton Lions Club Ann Slaughter attended Thursday’s Nov. 7 Upshur County Commission meeting to proclaim November Diabetes Awareness Month.

“West Virginia is number one in the nation. We have the highest number of diabetics, of which I am one. The worst thing is, we’ve increased nationwide from several years ago when we had 10 million to now, when we’re close to 30 million, so it’s something we need to start working on,” Slaughter said.

Diabetes refers to diseases involving problems with the hormone insulin. Typically, the pancreas produces insulin, which assists human bodies in the process of storing and using sugar and fat from food; diabetes can occur when the pancreas produces little or no insulin.

Slaughter read a proclamation that stated diabetes affects 26 million people in the United States.

“It’s a serious disease for which there is no known cure, and [it’s] the seventh leading cause of death by disease in the United States,” Slaughter said. “Another 79 million adults have prediabetes, which is a condition which puts them at greater risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes, and if the current trends continue, one in three American adults will have diabetes by 2050.”

She explained that diabetes is an autoimmune disease where a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food.

“It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin producing cells in the pancreas, called beta cells,” Slaughter said. “While its causes are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved. There is no prevention for Type 1 Diabetes, and at present, no cure.”

She said diabetes can affect anyone of any age and any background.

“It comes on suddenly, causes dependence on injected or pumped insulin for life and the constant threat of devastating complications,” Slaughter said. “Diabetes is the number one cause of blindness in the United States, and diabetes has many faces, affecting everyone old and young alike, Caucasians, African Americans, Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, with minority populations in the United States having an increase risk for developing the disease.”

She said an increase in community awareness can improve the chance that people will receive the help necessary to combat the disease.

“An increase in community awareness of risk factors and symptoms related to diabetes can improve the likelihood that people with diabetes will get attention they need before suffering the devastating complications of the disease,” Slaughter said.