An estimated 285 million people in the world today - and more than 435,000 in Israel - are living with diabetes, but if current trends continue, the total will be 435 million around the globe and two million here in 20 years.
So the International Diabetes Federation and the Israel Diabetes Association said Wednesday, on the eve of World Diabetes Day on Saturday, November 14.
Each year, four million diabetics die of complications, while many more suffer problems in their hearts, eyes, kidneys, legs and other organs.
However, people can live well with their diabetes if they exercise, observe a suitable diet, take medications and undergo regular checkups. What's more, many cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by maintaining a healthful lifestyle.
The world cost of treating diabetes is a massive $376 billion a year, and governments that fear they will be unable to cope with these costs have launched campaigns to prevent diabetes. More than 160 countries and territories have national diabetes associations that aim to promote awareness of the disease and prevent complications.
The Israel Diabetes Association, which will organize and coordinate informational events before and after the international day, notes that the number of diagnosed diabetics here has increased by 10 percent over the last two years.
It is believed that for every person who is diagnosed with diabetes, there is another one who has not yet been diagnosed but suffers from the disease or pre-diabetes "metabolic syndrome."
Israeli endocrinologist Dr. Mark Niven, who will chair an international diabetes conference here next month, says diabetes is a progressive disease, so the later it presents itself in one's lifetime, the fewer the complications that are liable to appear.
But the opposite is now occurring - the age of onset is decreasing, and many children are obese and inactive.
Meanwhile, Compugen Ltd. has announced the discovery and experimental confirmation of a genetic biomarker, CGEN-40001, for predisposition to type 2 diabetes, the most common form.
This new biomarker was discovered using Compugen's GeneVa platform, which consists of a database of 350,000 predicted genetic variations in the human genome, with each predicted variation consisting of multiple consecutive nucleotides.
Predisposition markers are of particular value in diseases like type 2 diabetes, where specific lifestyle and health factors are known to play an important role. Following diagnosis, high-risk patients may benefit from more aggressive management either through lifestyle modification or drug treatment.
From the 350,000 genetic variations, a very small set of 135 variations was selected as being potentially related to type 2 diabetes in Caucasians.
According to the two studies performed by Compugen, approximately 15% of the Caucasian population has at least one copy of this insertion. Furthermore, the studies showed that the presence of this insertion increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by 50% to 80%.