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Paula Deen Reacts to Diabetes Diagnosis with Drug Endorsement

By Michael Greger M.D.
January 26, 2012
File under: Diabetes, Health Concerns

The year before he died of lung cancer, Yul Brynner taped a powerful public service message for the American Cancer Society.

“Now that I’m gone,” he pleaded into the camera, “I tell you: Don’t smoke, whatever you do, just don’t smoke.” The Academy Award winning actor of film, stage and television did not want anyone else to end up like him.

Celebrity Chef Paula Deen, the self-proclaimed “Queen of Butter” who is well known for using doughnuts to bun her bacon-and-egg burgers, could have used her diabetes diagnosis in the same way, in hopes that others would not make the same mistake.

Instead, she announced that she is partnering “with a reputable pharmaceutical company” as spokesperson for a $500-a-month diabetes drug with known side effects that may include pancreatitis and thyroid cancer.

Instead of withdrawing her endorsements for Smithfield Ham and Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Paula Deen just added another to the list. It would be as if Yul Brynner’s last breaths were instead spent hawking chemotherapy.

Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic amputations and new cases of blindness. Currently it’s the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

The good news Paula could have given to the millions of diabetic and prediabetic individuals is that type 2 diabetes can be prevented, managed, treated, and even cured with a plant-based diet.

A recently published prospective study of nearly 20,000 vegetarian and vegan participants found that even after controlling for obesity, exercise, age, gender, education, income, television viewing, sleep, alcohol use and smoking, those who ate plant-based diets had just a fraction of the diabetes risk.

See How to Prevent Diabetes, How to Treat Diabetes, and my other 20 videos on diabetes. Good books on the subject include Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes and Defeating Diabetes.

When “Galloping Gourmet” chef, Graham Kerr’s wife and childhood sweetheart suffered a stroke, he changed his tune and became a champion for healthier cooking.

It is really too bad that Paula Deen missed this opportunity to embrace healthier Southern traditions, like collard greens and black eyed peas, and instead just chose to add a pharmaceutical side-dish to her deep-fried butter balls.

Michael Greger, M.D., an author and internationally recognized speaker on healthy eating, has produced hundreds of nutrition videos available at Follow Dr. Greger on Twitter

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