As more people with cystic fibrosis (CF) are living longer, a greater percentage of the community is developing cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD). CFRD is distinct from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and affects a greater percentage of the CF population as they age. Currently, CFRD impacts almost 40% of adults with CF, while an equal percentage have milder glucose intolerance, also called pre-diabetes.
CFRD is problematic because it is yet another disease that patients need to manage, and it adds to an already heavy treatment burden for patients. CFRD can be associated with a drop in weight and/or lung function. It is believed that high glucose (blood sugar) can contribute to lung inflammation.
Current treatments for CFRD include nutritional counselling to help manage blood sugar levels. A key point is that weight loss is not recommended for patients with CF, so guidance to patients and families should be provided by a CF multidisciplinary team that includes a dietitian. Taking insulin may also be necessary for some patients with CFRD, and is imperative for those who are losing weight. Finally, exercise can be an important aspect of treatment to help control blood sugar.
In an effort to increase knowledge about the disease and improve effective treatments, Cystic Fibrosis Canada is currently funding a study on CFRD conducted by Dr. Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM). Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret is testing whether taking a dietary fibre supplement, such as Metamucil, with meals will reduce blood sugar after meals in people with CF. If this proves successful, the aim is to combine this intervention with exercise training to delay the onset of CFRD and possibly improve lung function.
In addition to supporting CFRD research, Cystic Fibrosis Canada recently launched a CFRD Training Support Award. The award is available to healthcare practitioners across Canada and provides up to $750 for education in diabetes. For example, attendance at a conference, workshop or course on diabetes would be eligible for funding. Thus far, there have been a total of four successful CFRD Training Support Award applicants.
For more information on CFRD, please visit our website, or click here to view a Cystic Fibrosis Canada hosted webinar. For more information on applying for a CFRD Training Support Award, please contact Cystic Fibrosis Canada at email@example.com.
Dr. Rémi Rabasa-Lhoret (MD, PhD) is an endocrinologist and full professor at the Nutrition Department of Université de Montréal – Faculty of Medicine. Among his many roles, Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret is an active clinician (CHUM endo-division & IRCM) and he directs the diabetes clinic, metabolic laboratory and a research platform at IRCM. He has published over 270 manuscripts and book chapters and received multiple prizes. CFRD is one of the main research areas of Dr. Rabasa-Lhoret’s team, who is working to understand what predisposes patients to diabetes and to determine whether earlier treatment of diabetes would improve the weight and lung function of these patients.