Dr Jen Gunter* is a brilliant OB/GYN in the US, and she seems to have to spend a lot of time dispelling myths created by looney wellness gurus and Gwyneth Paltrow about things that help women’s health – most of which seem to involve shoving things up one’s vagina. Their non-science approach has included suggestions of inserting jade eggs, glitter and (most recently) garlic cloves in the vagina for all sorts of weird and not-so-wonderful purposes.

So, the good doctor writes blog posts and Twitter threads about why sticking ground up wasp nests (I’m serious) inside our vagina is a very, very bad idea. (I know – that should be self-explanatory. Alas, for some in this world, it is not.)

We get to do this in the diabetes world too. While I’m yet to see anyone suggesting inserting household items, bulbs or crushed up stinging insect homes into our orifices as a potential cure, there certainly are other myths that seem to regularly come our way and have people wondering if maybe, just maybe, they would work better than insulin.

They will not.

Cinnamon will not cure diabetes. I even have a little n=1 study to prove this. I ate nothing but cinnamon buns for two weeks while in Copenhagen and Stockholm and my diabetes did not disappear.

Okra water may have improved the glucose levels of pregnant rats (in one study), but it will not work as a substitute for insulin, so don’t load your pump up with it.

And while I can honestly say I have no interest whatsoever in any of the klusterfuck of Kardashians (I just created that collective noun for them), as soon as one of them trespasses into my diabetes world, you bet they become fair game and on my radar. This little gem from Khloe gets a regular show in diabetes presentations I give:

Myths and misconceptions everywhere! We may laugh about them, and share silly memes, but sometimes, they do more than just cause us to roll our eyes. Sometimes they can be a little more damaging.

Hello Easter, and hello myth that low A1c guarantees zero complications.

The reason this was getting a run was because Easter for many means chocolate, and chocolate is like kryptonite for some low-carbers. Out came their claims that carbs are a one-way street to Complicationsville.

Diabetes-related complications don’t work in a logical, or especially fair, way. There is no formula that you can go to that works it out for you and is accurate every single time. Much like there is no pie for low-carbers, there is no Pi for diabetes.

It would be great if there was. I would love something that worked like this all the time:

A1c <5% = 0 complications ever, ever, ever.

Alas, it doesn’t work that way.

Diabetes-related complications are fucked up for many reasons. Before we even get them, they can be terrifying. We live with this fear hanging over our heads and for some of us, that terror can be horrid.

They come with all sorts of blame and shame and judgement and finger pointing, plus a good measure of guilt. Isn’t that fun?

There are other factors at play that contribute to the development of diabetes-related complications. And we don’t know what they all are. That’s why we see examples of two people running the same A1c for the same number of years yet one has complications and the other doesn’t.

And then, if we are diagnosed with them, we need to readjust our lives to work around this new reality that can be debilitating. And that’s just the physical side of it – the psychological side adds a whole other level.

There is evidence to show that an in-range A1c lowers the risk of developing diabetes-related complications. We have that information and it is regularly and repeatedly banged into our heads. One of the first acronyms I learnt when diagnosed with diabetes (literally day 1) was DCCT!

I know that the idea of developing diabetes-related complications after ‘doing everything right’ and living with a super low A1c doesn’t seem fair. I also know that people are terrified about what diabetes may hold, so gripping onto a promise that the bad stuff won’t happen can be reassuring. We all want reassurance. We all want hope.

But a reduced risk does not equal no risk. Diabetes doesn’t work in absolutes. And people who think that it does are, quite simply, wrong. I really wish they would stop spreading myths about it. (That goes for you too, Khloe.)

*Dr Jen Gunter has written a book and it’s due out later this year. I’ve pre-ordered and you can too here. It’s called The Vagina Bible, or as it has become known in our place thanks to the fourteen-year-old kidlet’s wordplay: ‘The Vible’).

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