Belle Gibson has been pretty much universally shamed for her claims that she was able to cure her cancer by ignoring medical treatments, instead using diet and alternative therapies.

We question (as we should) the validity of curing conditions such as autism with specific diets; epilepsy with light therapy, and asthma with reiki.

Anti-vaxxers are called out (although not enough) for their claims that pixie dust and sun-charged crystals will protect their darling, perfect offspring, and that injecting toxic toxins of toxicity is a waste of time that only serves to line the pockets of BigPharma. And Governments, who are in the pockets of BigPharma. (It must be really crowded in those BigPharma pockets…)

(Soon to be former) US Democrat presidential-nominee Marianne Williamson added her voice to the throng of lunatics back in 2009 when she claimed that vaccine-prevented diseases are insignificant, and that god will protect us as long as we pour his love over our immune systems. I’m still trying to work out: 1. Where to get my dose of god’s love (my pharmacy doesn’t seem to have it listed on their website) and 2. How the fuck I’m meant to administer it to my already over-sensitive immune system. It’s likely to self-combust.

Main stream press unfortunately does give voice to these fools, but thankfully, the voices of science – you know, those that actually understand and believe in real science-based evidence – are loud and clear in their condemnation of charlatan claims.

Of course, diabetes isn’t immune (autoimmune?) from these sorts of claims. I still regularly show this ridiculous Khloe Khardashian claim klaim that kumcumbers kure diabetes when explaining how so-called wellness gurus (or reality television stars) infiltrate – and influence – what we know actually works as a treatment for diabetes.

And the delightful cinnamon cure-all gets rolled out at every possible moment.

Marrakech 2013: holding the cure in my hands.

But what happens when there is evidence showing something that challenges what we have long-held to be true means we do need to sit up and listen…but it is being communicated in a way that could potentially be more damaging than beneficial?

We are hearing more and more that there is evidence to support that type 2 diabetes can be ‘cured’ and put into ‘remission’. I am not looking at the science here; I do understand that there is a growing body of evidence to show that for some people, a very strict low-calorie eating plan can mean that people see in range glucose levels.

This is being hailed as positive, but where I start to feel uncomfortable is when this is reported in the mainstream media as a cure, which is often how it is touted. Other words that seem to be bandied about are ‘remission’ and ‘reversal’

But is it a cure? Is type 2 diabetes able to be truly reversed or put into remission? Because that is how I am seeing this presented with very little question.

As ever, language matters. Using the word ‘cure’ suggests that a health condition is fixed, forever gone away. That is not what is happening here.

Remission, when used in the context of cancer, is not an absolute. There are stages to remission. Partial remission suggests that treatment may be ceased as long as the cancer doesn’t grow again. No evidence of cancer in scans and other examinations is referred to as complete remission.

In diabetes, remission and cure are used to suggest that glucose levels return to ‘normal’ levels, (i.e. those seen in people not living with diabetes), usually because something has happened – the person lost weight, changed the way they are eating, increased their exercise etc. And this happens because people followed a treatment plan. What happens if they stop that treatment? And how long will this treatment continue to work this way? Does it mean that they no longer have any of the concerns that occupy the hearts and minds of people with diabetes?

Just as in cancer – and in other conditions – some people respond to treatments better than others do. When the media says type 2 diabetes can be cured or put into remission with these treatments, there is never any nuance to that statement, explaining what that means. No one talks about the non-modifiable risk factors that play a huge part in type 2 diabetes.

The last thing we want to do is for those who don’t see the results promised – cure! remission! – is for them to feel that they have failed. There is already too much of that in diabetes…especially in type 2 diabetes. (This never happens in cancer. If a treatment doesn’t work, the person is not told they have failed.)

The words we use do matter. How we are communicating these new treatments for people with type 2 diabetes is important. We need to remember that these treatments will not work for everyone and it is never okay to make people with type 2 diabetes feel responsible if they don’t work for them, or that they haven’t tried hard enough. Or that they haven’t wanted it hard enough.