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[IP] Diabetes costs soar


      WASHINGTON, Feb. 27  The nations medical bills for diabetes have more
than doubled since 1997, costing almost $92 billion last year, researchers
reported Thursday.
        Add lost productivity, and diabetes cost the nation a total of $132
billion last year, the American Diabetes Association reported. Thats up from
$44 billion in medical bills, and $98 billion in total costs, in 1997.
       More than 16 million Americans have diabetes, although experts think 6
million of them dont know it is silently festering in their bodies. Its a
leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, limb amputations and heart
disease, and kills 180,000 people annually.
       Some people are born with diabetes. But the vast majority have the Type
2 form that is increasing at epidemic proportions as Americans get older,
fatter and less active  hence the rising costs.
       Even modest weight loss and exercise significantly lowers the chances
of getting this type of diabetes, the government noted in publicizing the
ADAs new cost estimates.

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