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Diabetes

Diabetes

03/10/2009

Question:

who discovered diabetes?

Answer:

Diabetes has been known about for thousands of years - you would have to survey the literature of every language to find out which described it first.  Our society has searched the roots of western civilization in perhaps more depth and there are ancient Egyptian and Greek writings that provide surprisingly accurate descriptions of the symptoms we know are associated with diabetes.  The word diabetes is from a Greek word for "siphon," which relates the loss of fat tissue to the tremendous loss of urine which can be among the characteristics of uncontrolled diabetes.  One of my sources for this is a book called Classic Descriptions of Disease edited by Dr Ralph Major more than 30 years ago - I frequently use it for teaching.

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Response by:

Robert M Cohen, MD Robert M Cohen, MD
Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati