Your Special Diet Could Be Tax Deductible

The weight-loss area of the tax law offers guidance for restricted diets, says Mark Luscombe, principal federal tax analyst for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting US. “That says if you are on a restricted diet for a particular disease and if you have a doctor’s certification that you should be on such a diet, you can treat it as a medical expense,” he explains.

…But claiming the tax break isn’t without hurdles. For starters, you must have certification from a doctor that you have a medically necessitated diet due to celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. Going gluten-free as a beneficial lifestyle choice isn’t going to cut it.

Source: A Tax Break for Going Gluten-Free?

The information is for the US only, but does provide which IRS documents to reference.  I know Canada allows you to write-off a portion of medications, but I have no further details.  In any case, the worst you can hear if you inquire is “no”.

Human Clinical Trials for Verapamil: Reverses Type I Diabetes In Animal Models

A study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has shown that verapamil, a drug widely used to treat high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and migraine headaches, is able to completely reverse diabetes in animal models. The UAB team will now move onto clinical trials to see if the same results are repeated in humans.

Following years of research, the UAB researchers have shown that high blood sugar causes the body to overproduce a protein called TXNIP. Too much of this protein in specialized cells in the pancreas called beta cells contributes to the progression of diabetes by leading to the death of the cells and countering the body’s efforts to produce insulin.

Source: Human clinical trials to begin on drug that reverses diabetes in animal models

There are more than 2 types of diabetes.  A lot of what is considered Type I diabetes is a constellation of diseases that have a complicated relationship with blood sugar levels, beta cell death and the immune system.

Diabetics: Embryonic Stem Cells in FDA Approved Trial

This is different from the news out of Harvard:

As San Diego’s ViaCyte was in the midst of launching the first FDA-approved embryonic stem (ES) cell clinical trial for diabetes last week, Boston’s Harvard University reported that beta cells from ES cells “cured” diabetic mouse-models.

Both teams worked for years to painstakingly recreate the natural development of pancreatic islet cells— if Harvard took it further in the dish, and ViaCyte took it further to the clinic.

Source: Embryonic Stem Cells in Trial for Diabetes

Type II diabetes has a stronger genetic component than Type I.  People mistakenly believe that Type I is genetic because it happens in early life, while Type II is late setting.  Additionally – sugar does not cause diabetes.  Any diet with an unhealthy amount of things that end up as glucose rapidly will do the trick.  Sugar is just one of the more readily available substances in the American diet that does.  And people can develop Type II diabetes, even with a completely reasonable diet.

Eating sugar/carbs has very little to no effect at all in the development of Type I diabetes – it’s an auto-immune disorder.   So the question is: how would the therapy work with the autoimmune response?  These beta cells will be encapsulated in a polymeric matrix that is porous enough for insulin to pass through freely, but impermeable to immune cells, thus protecting the beta cells from destruction.

This treatment theoretically isn’t much different than islet transplantation (which currently exists – patients are on immunosuppressive therapy).  The cool thing about this research is that they found a way to differentiate embryonic stem cells into immature beta cells (which produce insulin) on a large scale. So this will give us more islets for transplant (currently we only use islets from cadaveric donors – dead people) – but this doesn’t do anything to prevent islet rejection. Patients would still need to be on immunosuppressive therapy.  What this means is that it doesn’t really practically change things for diabetic patients currently. Until better immunosuppressive drugs are developed, or islets are protected from the immune response (via encapsulation or a device), islet transplantation won’t be a viable option for otherwise healthy diabetics.