ALTON — The streets surrounding Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will be awash in red shirts next month.
Typically that’s reserved for Cougar fans getting ready to cheer SIUE on to victory. But this time, the stakes are much higher.
The American Diabetes Association is hosting the 2016 Metro East Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes on Saturday, Sept. 17, on the SIUE campus. Hundreds will gather with a unified mission: to stop the disease that — according to the National Institute of Health — kills more Americans every year than AIDS and breast cancer combined.
“The most common long-term complication of diabetes is cardiovascular disease, which can lead to heart attack, chest pain, stroke and even death,” said Dr. Wonil Tae, endocrinologist at OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center. “People with type 2 diabetes have twice the risk of heart disease as those without diabetes.”
In the United States, 29.1 million people — 9.3 percent of the U.S. population — have diabetes, and that number continues to grow. Cases of diagnosed diabetes grew by 382 percent from 1988 to 2014.
It’s a trend Tae said can be reversed, with the right combination of prevention and education.
“While there is still no cure for diabetes, there is good news; type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed,” he said. “Awareness and the subsequent action of lifestyle changes are the two keys to preventing diabetes. Studies demonstrate that community-based intervention programs are extremely effective in reducing diabetic risk.”
The walk aims to help with that mission. Support from sponsors like OSF Saint Anthony’s Health Center, as well as walkers and individual donors, makes a real, tangible difference in the community.
Just this past year, contributions from the walk helped the association fund 400 researchers advancing prevention and reducing complications from the disease. It also made it possible for 6,500 children to attend diabetes summer camps, among other things.
For information about the walk, call Brooke Underwood at (314) 822-5490, ext. 6824. For information about Tae, call OSF Saint Anthony’s Physician Group at (618) 462-2222.