Diabetes

28. August 2018

Which factors cause diabetes?

What are the causes of diabetes?

It is essential to search for the causes of diabetes, in order for the person affected to choose appropriate treatment approaches. The causes of diabetes differ, as type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes are clinical pictures, which need to be analysed in a differentiated manner.

In the following paragraphs, we are provided a brief explanation of both types, in addition to the related causes.

Causes of type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes affects around ten percent of sufferers, this disease is characterised by an autoimmune reaction in the body – the body forms antibodies against its own tissue, which is destroyed. The so-called island cells of the pancreas (autoimmuninsulitis) are affected, in these cells, insulin is produced, which the body needs, in order to regulate carbohydrate metabolism. Over time, which may take several weeks or months, depending on the severity, the majority of these cells are destroyed: Blood sugar is chronically elevated, as the body’s own hormones are missing for reducing it.

Therefore, the cause of type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which usually already manifests itself at a young age. In medicine, a large portion of genetic disposition is being discussed, which means that if diabetes exists in the family, there is a much higher risk of suffering from it yourself. However, with type 1 diabetes, the possibility of passing it on (three to five percent, if one parent has diabetes; 20 percent if both parents are affected) is slightly lower than with type 2 diabetes. It is also assumed that specific viral infections promote the development of type 1 diabetes.

Therefore, the cause of type 1 diabetes is absolute insulin deficiency, which is caused by the body itself destroying the cells, which produce insulin, or it is triggered by a specific infection.

Causes of type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes has a higher priority in terms of research, as nearly 90 percent of diabetics receive this diagnosis – and therefore, a clinical picture, which has similarities with type 1 diabetes, but is nevertheless fundamentally different. The only commonality is that the blood sugar level is elevated with both types of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is characterised by the fact that the body’s own insulin production is maintained. However, the problem and cause is the insulin resistance occurs, i.e. a type of insensitivity of the body cells to insulin, which leads to the effectiveness of insulin being disrupted/less insulin is released from the pancreas. The cause of type 2 diabetes is therefore an insulin deficiency/insulin resistance, which usually occurs from the age of 40 and it is not uncommon for it to be related to obesity, i.e. being overweight.

Type 2 diabetes can occur, if several specific factors come together:

  • Obesity
  • Arterial hypertonia
  • Elevated blood fat (so-called hypercholesterinaemia/hypertriglyceridaemia)

In medicine, “metabolic syndrome” is also referred to, which is caused by a severe lack of exercise in daily life and poor diet. Metabolic syndrome dangerous because it is a type of vicious circle, which affected persons are no longer able to escape from, once it reaches a certain stage.

Over time, the cells become insensitive for insulin, which causes the glucose concentration in the blood to increase, as well as the insulin level. Due to this excess, the number of so-called insulin receptors is reduced, which, in turn, become more insensitive. A “relative insulin deficiency” is created, which, in plain terms, means that in spite of the surplus supply of insulin, the body is no longer able to transport glucose to the appropriate cells, but rather, it accumulates permanently in the blood.

For clarification: In this case, the pancreas needs to work a full speed, produces more and more insulin, which, in turn, stresses the island cells. After a certain period of time, these stops producing insulin, which is referred to as secondary failure. The main cause of type 2 diabetes is obesity, as more than 80 percent of type 2 diabetics are deemed to be overweight.