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Diabetes causes

Causes of diabetes

What causes diabetes?

Insulin is a hormone in the body that can lower blood sugar levels and is produced in pancreas. From the pathogenesis, any cause leading to a malfunction in insulin production or function, will trigger diabetes. In the etiology, genetic, autoimmune, environmental and dietary factors, are related to diabetes. There are four types of diabetes and many causes are responsible for them.

Type 1 diabetes

In type 1 diabetes, the body's own defense destroys the insulin-producing cells (B cell) of the pancreas. The insulin production decreases and will be finally completely shutdown. Why the body forms these antibodies is unclear. Heredity and genetic factors appear to play a role to start autoimmune response. As a result of immune destruction, B-cell function and number are both reduced, then insulin is elevated and diabetes occurs.


In type 2 diabetes, the sensitivity of the body's cells is reduced for insulin, that is called insulin resistance. The cells of person affected needs a lot more insulin to absorb glucose from the blood, than cells of healthy humans. The insulin-producing cells of the pancreas pour out more insulin. Over time, they are overloaded, thereby the reduction of insulin production is gradually increased.

Trigger of diabetes is also related to hereditary or genetic factor; Environmental factors are also important causes to trigger type 2 diabetes, including aging, nutritional factors, obesity, lack of exercise, urbanization, stress, and fetal undernutrition. In addition, there are drugs that interfere with the metabolism of sugar, and diabetes can be caused, such as diabetogenic drugs. It is very common that the type 2 diabetes occurs in connection with the metabolic syndrome (including diabetes, atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease, hypertension, dyslipidemia, visceral obesity).

In the course of development of diabetes, the patients experience a process from Phase I - high levels of insulin in the blood and/or insulin resistance, and abnormal insulin secretion, to Phase II - impaired glucose tolerance, to Phase III - diabetes.

Last update: 2012-05-15

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