Doctors should routinely test people’s feet to check for diabetes, that’s according to a former UK Health Minister and MEP who has become a campaigner for the disease after being diagnosed with it himself.
Tingly feet can be a sign of diabetes, helping provide doctors with a crucial early diagnosis.
‘You have symptoms like tingling in the feet,’ said John Bowis, who was diagnosed with diabetes in 2002 but thinks he may well have had the disease for longer.
Diabetes can impair the function of nerves in the extremities of the body, leading to tingling and numbness in the feet and legs.
‘At night, the sheets can actually hurt. Then I developed lymphoedema, a swelling that wouldn’t go away. So, I tested my blood sugar,’ said Bowis, a former MEP who set up a committee in the European Parliament soon after he was diagnosed with diabetes to campaign for screening, education, prevention and research.
Diabetes affects about one in 20 Europeans, and the number of sufferers in Europe is forecast to increase by over a fifth in the next 20 years as people continue to eat unhealthy food and as obesity rates rise.
However, early diagnosis of the most common type, Type-2 diabetes, can prevent or slow its progression.
Doctors regularly check blood sugar levels and eyesight for signs of diabetes, but rarely check foot problems – which can often be an indicator of the illness – because the cost of testing is rarely covered by health insurance.
‘Podiatry is an expense usually handled by the individual,’ said Bowis. ‘A lot more research is needed on the diabetic foot.’
EU Diabetes Working Group (EUDWG)
On World Diabetes Day in 2008, Bowis invited three diabetic athletes who had won gold medals at the Beijing Olympics that year – Polish oarsman Michal Jelinski, Dutch basketball player Bas van de Goor, and French swimmer Paul-Louis Fouesnant – to speak at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France to help raise awareness of the disease.
In March 2012, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution to address the EU diabetes epidemic. It called for the establishment of an EU diabetes strategy focused on prevention and early diagnosis.
Today, some EU Member States have already adopted national diabetes programmes.
An air quality study has for the first time detected nano-sized particles of air pollution in children’s urine. With a diameter of just 100 nanometers - a thousandth of the width of a human hair - these ultrafine particles are the smallest particles found in air pollution and have been linked to heart disease and respiratory conditions in previous studies.
There are many rare genetic diseases that strike perhaps only one in a million people. Often incurable, they can be profoundly debilitating and frequently life-threatening. Though each particular disease is rare, they number in the thousands – which means that together they affect about 30 million Europeans or around 7% of us. Treating these diseases is challenging and until recently, no cure was thought to be even possible for most of them. Now, hopes are rising for people living with rare genetic diseases as new treatments are being developed.
Swarms of firefighting drones could one day be deployed to tackle hugely destructive megafires that are becoming increasingly frequent in the Mediterranean region because of climate change, arson and poor landscape management.
The challenge of how to rebuild society following conflict is a difficult question that arises all too frequently, but recent studies have demonstrated that putting people at the centre of the process and enabling cooperation on politically neutral issues can help build peace.
Large fires are increasingly common in the Mediterranean region.
Where does one start to fix a broken society?
Destruction of cultural heritage sites can be a war crime as they form part of people's emotional landscape, according to Dr Margarete van Ess.