Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Diabetes - the Biography - Robert Tattersall


I thought I would include a review of a book I read recently about the history of diabetes. There appears to be very little written on the subject, despite its importance and the development over the years, particularly the last century.

This is an absorbing and comprehensive account of the history of diabetes encompassing earliest theories, the discovery of insulin and changes in treatment regimes including the very latest advances. It provides a very useful complement to Michael Bliss’ ‘The Discovery of Insulin’, expanding on the progression of treatment since the earliest days of insulin therapy to include chapters on diabetic complications, methods of testing and control, application of drug therapies and the emergence of the patient as primary carer in the management of their diabetes – thus moving the emphasis from physician-led instruction to self-monitoring and flexibility by the individual.
Dr Tattersall builds an easily digested ( and non-spiking!) timeline of the changes in diabetes and its care, beginning with its first recorded descriptions 3,500 years ago through the advances of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, culminating in current methodologies and advances of the twenty first century. It is an encouraging story of how diabetes has changed from being an almost assured death sentence accompanied by severe and distressing complications to a manageable condition with increasingly sophisticated treatment options, thus promising a much brighter future for those who are being diagnosed in ever-increasing numbers today. A very welcome addition to my library!

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