Stop diabetes before it starts

Diabetes is a lifetime of pricked fingers, insulin injections, and enough drugs to open your own pharmacy -- and who wants to live like that?

You don't have to, of course. You don't have to if you have the disease and work hard to get it under control and even cured (and yes, it can be cured). And you certainly don't have to if you've been diagnosed with "pre" diabetes.

All you need to do is get your blood sugar levels under control.

It's obvious, of course, but apparently not obvious enough since 70 percent of the 80 million people with pre-diabetes are expected to go on and get the disease anyway.

But if you have the condition, you don't have to share their fate -- because a new study of more than 3,000 pre-diabetics confirms that normalizing your blood sugar levels even briefly can cut your risk of the disease by 56 percent.

The key word here is "briefly." Don't settle for "briefly," like the patients in this study -- control your blood sugar permanently, and you can slash your diabetes risk by 100 percent.

The researchers claim it didn't matter how the patients brought their blood sugar levels down. Whether they did it with the drug metformin or through lifestyle changes, the reduction in risk was the same.

And they're wrong on that, because out in the real world it matters quite a bit.

There's been a big rush to put pre-diabetics onto metformin, and some doctors are even giving it to obese patients as a weight-loss tool, but this drug comes with far too many risks to be used that widely.

Some of the risks are simply embarrassing -- like bad gas and diarrhea. Others are downright dangerous, including a potentially deadly condition called lactic acidosis in which too much acid enters the blood.

Healthy lifestyle changes, on the other hand, can do so much more than slash your risk of diabetes every bit as effectively as the drug and then some. They can also lower your risk of just about every major killer today: heart disease, cancer, stroke and more.

Don't wait for pre-diabetes to set in. Make those changes now. I'll have more on some simple ways to slash your risk of diabetes in Sunday's House Calls, so keep an eye on your inbox.