Mar 092009

It’s been too long since my last blog post, but my mind was totally blank about topic possibilities this morning. And then I got an e-mail from my Swedish friend Britt Lindqvist, and my eyes popped.

I met Lindqvist through the research I did for my book Lifeliner. Those of you who have read the book will recognize her name. She told me a great story that started last summer when she sent a copy of Lifeliner to her friend. She wrote:

“As being a diabetic for quite [a] long time he had got trouble with his feet. When he read about all your father’s strain to help Judy, he became very interested when he read that your father gave Judy Chrome [chromium], because of the trouble with her feet. He also felt as if he had cotton under his feet.”

He immediately went out and bought chromium. And do you know, his feet got better! As she wrote, “You can imagine how happy he is!”

I can, but what I can’t imagine is how a book about Judy Taylor and the development of TPN (total parenteral nutrition) would have such an impact on the physical health of a man half a world away in the here and now. But then that’s what Judy did during her lifetime.

It gets better.

He was so thrilled with how chromium improved his health that he mentioned it to his female doctor, a specialist in diabetes. Now, I knew that my father’s 30-year-old discovery of the role of chromium in diabetes was still barely explored, but I had thought most specialists would be aware of it by now. Apparently not. Some research flies through doctors’ offices everywhere, especially when touted by marketing-savvy researchers and hospitals, while some obviously plods its way through. This Swedish doctor had not heard of the role of chromium in diabetes, was very interested when informed by her patient (that’s a good doctor, one who listens and is not afraid to learn from her patients), and is now discussing it with her colleagues. On top of all that, the friend knows a professor who is also interested in this information and is discussing it with his colleagues. This diabetic has got the chromium ball rolling in Sweden. Given how Sweden was the centre of research into artificial feeding back when my father started his work, it would not surprise me if this ball leapfrogs them ahead of the world in treating diabetes.

I wonder though if Canadian diabetes’ specialists know about chromium and have incorporated that knowledge into their treatment protocols. And I wonder why, when the news of my father’s discovery hit the media back in the 1970s, they didn’t immediately leap onto it, especially as Canada birthed the famous Banting and Best. Well, it’s probably the same reason why a Canadian living in Ontario recently had the Mayo Clinic refer her to my father for treatment of her disease. Amazing that, eh? A renowned American clinic still regards him highly while the local teaching hospital has been busy trying to put him out to pasture, and the University of Toronto already kicked him out as being too old (once he’d finished his last grant — they didn’t want to lose that money).

If Canadian specialists and researchers were, as a group, happy to learn from, encourage, and tout the findings of their highly successful colleagues, then all specialists around the world would by now know much more about chromium and its role in diabetes — you would even be able to easily find an entry on chromium in the Banting and Best Diabetes Centre, an Extra Departmental Unit of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. And Lindqvist’s friend would not have had to suffer from cotton wool feet for so long.


Update: Wikipedia has a good general article on chromium and one on chromium deficiency. It’s interesting that the trivalent form of chromium is safe, whereas hexavalent chromium is toxic. One thing the article on chromium deficiency missed mentioning, as Dr. Jeejeebhoy pointed out, is that with the aging body, chromium falls and may account for the glucose intolerance of the older person. Also increased insulin levels as found in diabetics increase chromium loss from the body and depletes body chromium.