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Diabetes Can Have a No-Symptom ‘Honeymoon Period’

Dear Dr. Roach: My 13-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in March 2012 at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., and his A1C was 12. Of course, I prayed for a miracle, and about one week after he was diagnosed, I started him on a nutraceutical called Protandim. After 17 days of being on Protandim, he came off of insulin and has been off ever since. His doctor says it’s a “honeymoon period” and that it will not last. I asked him how long a honeymoon typically lasts and he said, “Days, weeks, months, but not years.” I’ve told his doctor about the product, but he does not believe there is any correlation between taking it and my son not needing insulin. His A1C went from 12 down to 6.5 within three months, and then it was 7.0 and then 7.5, and we still check his sugar and monitor his diet not allowing him to have too many carbohydrates, nor do we allow him to have real sugar, but he takes one Protandim per day. All of the information I have researched this drug shows that it does help with diabetes that would be Type 2 and also Type 1, especially if caught early. A different doctor explained that Protandim helps repair the islet cells over time. — M.A.

Answer: I have heard of Protandim, but was unable to find any research showing that it improves diabetes care. It is supposed to prevent aging, but the evidence that it works is sparse.

I think that your son probably is in a prolonged honeymoon period, which occasionally can last for years. The careful diet he is on certainly is helping as well. However, with the A1C (a measurement of average blood sugar over a few months) rising, and now in the frankly diabetic range (normal is less than 6.5 percent), I think he will very shortly need to be back on insulin.

It is almost impossible to say in any given person whether a medication or supplement is effective. I can’t recommend this supplement based on your son’s experience, even though it sounds very promising. I will be watching carefully for any peer-reviewed articles on this subject.

Dear Dr. Roach: Does acinic cell carcinoma fall under carcinoid tumors? My son had a tumor in his neck when he was 27 years old. He was a healthy young man; he never smoked and does not drink. The tumor was removed successfully, but the biopsy said it was acinic cell carcinoma. Do you know what causes this kind of tumor (the acinic cell carcinoma)?— N.I.

Answer: An acinic cell cancer is not a carcinoid tumor. It’s a low-grade cancer of the neck that, if it was removed successfully, with clear margins (meaning no tumor cells near the edge of the surgical site), then it usually doesn’t need further treatment. Radiation is used if the cancer cells are too close to the edge of the surgical incision.

Nobody knows exactly what causes this tumor. However, radiation exposure, certain viral infections (such HPV and HIV) and some industrial chemicals seem to increase the risk, although people with no known risk factors certainly may get it.

Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or write to P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.