Welcome back! It's Saturday again, so time to curl up with a cup of tea/coffee and our weekly diabetes advice column, Ask D'Mine! This week, veteran type 1, diabetes author and educator Wil Dubois tackles a question we've never heard before about the probability that continuous glucose monitor (CGM) use might lead to cancer (?). He also has some thoughts about how to manage non-diabetes medical professionals when you're in the hospital... should an emergency situations arise.

Read on!

{Got your own questions? Email us at AskDMine@diabetesmine.com}


Ruth, type 3 D-Mom from Michigan, writes: I have a 14-year-old daughter, type 1 since age 5. We were just approved for the Medtronic CGM that goes with the Revel pump, but now I am nervous... that means a continuous beam is being transmitted to her pump, just near her reproductive organs. I worry that this will create problems within her body in terms of having children someday... just like some people are nervous about cell phone use and brain cancer. Any thoughts? Thanks!

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: Well, crap. I've never thought of that. But now that I'm thinking about it, a flood of thoughts is coming into my brain, and not from my cell phone either! First off, we need to be clear that there isn't any proof that there's any kind of causative link between cell phones and brain cancer. But, of course, for the longest time the best and brightest minds in medicine (at the time) didn't think there was any link between cigarettes and cancer either. One hundred million deaths later...

Anyway, the cell phone and cancer worries got started in earnest back in 2011, when the global cancer arm of the World Health Organization raised a red flag by broadly classifying "radiofrequency electromagnetic fields" as "possibly carcinogenic to humans," and called for more research. Actually there's been a ton of research into this issue, without much to be seen in the way of consistent results.

But clinical research aside, let's use our cancer-free brains and think about this for a moment. The first thing that comes to my mind is that more of the earth's population has access to cell phones than has access to toilets (no shit). So it seems to me that if the stupid cell phones were causing brain cancer (the only type of cancer that the phones have been implicated in), we Medtronic CGM Sensor Signalshould have a crap-load of brain cancer cases on our hands. But, actually, as cell phone use has exploded, brain cancer rates have actually been dropping. Of course that's not to belittle the issue. Brain cancers still rob 14,000 American families of their loved ones every year. Still, you are more likely to be murdered than die of brain cancer.

There are actually two versions of the Med-T MiniLink CGM transmitter, one works around 860 megahertz and the other at 916 megahertz; both quite a bit lower than the typical cell phone, which operates in the 1,800 to 2,200 megahertz range. So even if we agreed that there was a cancer risk from cell phones, I don't think we could interpolate those findings to the CGM transmitters. They're a whole 'nother animal altogether. What other types of devices are in the range of the CGM transmitter? Household thermostats, burglar alarm systems, and cordless landline telephones.

Of course, despite their name, Continuous Glucose Monitors aren't continuous at all. So there isn't a "continuous beam" being transmitted between the two devices. Every five minutes or so, the transmitter will send a little burst of data to the pump. Granted, that's 288 times a day, but I'd still bet the total daily energy exposure from the CGM is less than the typical 14-year-old girl gets having one conversation with her BFF on her cell.

Frankly, we don't know if the radiation from our CGMs might lead to cancers long-term; just like we don't know the long-term effects of our cell phones, wireless networks, or any of the other high tech radiation that surrounds us. We are literally swimming in a sea of wireless signals, and God only knows what the long-term effects of any of it will be. It may turn out that living next door to a Starbucks "hotspot" is more dangerous than wearing a CGM.

But, but, but... Even if it does turn out that despite all of what I've said, radiofrequency electromagnetic fields do end up causing brain cancer, we must remember that brain cancer and uterine cancer have about as much in common as plague and malaria. Yeah, they are both diseases, but other than that...

So my thoughts are it's not worth worrying about. But, if I'm wrong, mine will be the first obituary you'll see. I've been told that I've been wearing CGM full-time, all the time, longer than anyone else on the planet. Of course that's only been for eight years or so, and so only more time will tell if it's zapping me into an early grave.

But let's put this in perspective. We do know that diabetes kills children. And the CGM is, for now, the best tool we have to fight that reaper.


Leslie, type 3 D-Mom from Texas, writes: I am the mom of a 6-year-old with type 1 diabetes. Recently, I took him to our local Children's hospital ER with a tummy bug that caused vomiting and high ketones. Getting professional help was clearly the right move, but our hospital visit was "enlightening." The generalists at the hospital (both in the ER & on the general admission floor) knew very little about type 1 care. Between their lack of expertise and communication impediments with the endo, I would have Emergency ERbeen better off managing my son's insulin myself! What I really needed the hospital to do was give my son an IV of fluids. When I talked with our CDE at the hospital later, she agreed with my assessment of the generalists' training. She further agreed, based on my skill level, that I would do well to be assertive about my son's insulin doses in this kind of situation. Do you agree, and how would I do that? And a second question: If the assistance I really need is an IV of fluid, are there other good care options besides the Children's Hospital? It's 30 minutes away (and expensive). Are commercial acute care centers set up to handle us? Or, would a closer, good, but non-kid-specific hospital ER be able to help us? Thank you very much. Love your blog!

Wil@Ask D'Mine answers: Ohmygosh! Thank goodness your kiddo is OK! Wow. Good care is hard to find. So, to your second question first: most commercial acute care outfits don't do IVs, so I wouldn't even waste time stopping there. Beyond that—and I'm tiptoeing around the dangerous world of giving medical advice here—it's my personal opinion, based solely on my personal experience, that I think any hospital ER will be able to do the job. So I personally see no reason to go to the Children's, particularly given your experience there. Frankly, starting an IV, even in a kid, isn't really all that hard. Any ER nurse can do it.

Now, to your first question; I agree with your CDE. You should be TOTALLY assertive and manage your son's insulin yourself. Don't let doctors—or the nurses, who are often worse—be bullies. How do you advocate for yourself and your kid to remain in control? It's easy. You stand firm and don't back down. Not for one second. At the first sign of resistance you make it 100% that clear you are willing to stalk out, child in tow, and go to the next ER down the street if you are not going to get the care you demand. They'll back down for two reasons: First there's fear of liability. If they force you out and something "bad" happens, they'll fear it will haunt them in court later on. And second, healthcare, like it or not, is a business.

And no hospital wants to lose a paying customer.


This is not a medical advice column. We are PWDs freely and openly sharing the wisdom of our collected experiences — our been-there-done-that knowledge from the trenches. But we are not MDs, RNs, NPs, PAs, CDEs, or partridges in pear trees. Bottom line: we are only a small part of your total prescription. You still need the professional advice, treatment, and care of a licensed medical professional.

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.