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Teen health advocate from Guthrie is diagnosed with diabetes

Mason Harvey, 13, of Guthrie, OK, heralded for losing weight and promoting a healthy lifestyle, will now advocate for diabetes awareness and care, said his mother. Harvey, who lost 85 pounds in 2011, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes Saturday.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Published: January 8, 2013
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“We don't fully understand all of the mechanisms behind Type 1. We understand it's autoimmune, but we don't know what causes it, what triggers it,” she said.

With Type 1 diabetes, the body attacks beta cells created by the pancreas which are used for the production of insulin, and once those cells are gone, the patient develops the symptoms of diabetes.

With Type 2, the body's tissues are themselves resistant to the insulin.

Family history, ethnicity and weight problems can contribute to Type 2, but Type 1 can develop in young children and teens often without any precursor, Tryggestad said.

A person's prior weight problems — as well as his subsequent weight-shedding — would likely not contribute to the type of diabetes suffered by Harvey, she said.

If anything, Type 1 diabetes can cause people to unexpectedly lose weight because the body sheds excess glucose through its urine, causing diabetes sufferers to dehydrate and lose calories, she said.

“But most all of our patients that present, usually we have somewhere around a two- or three-year period where they've had increased urination first,” she said.

But if there's anyone prepared for a sudden health setback, it's Mason, said his mother.

He gets a joy out of sharing his fit lifestyle tips with adults as well as his peers, she said. Diabetes, though unfortunate, will be an addition to his advocacy platform, she said.

“He's already been cracking jokes and talking about how he can use this in a positive way to help what he's doing,” she said. “He said, ‘I can whup this just like I whupped everything else.'”


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