Causes of Diabetes: This article explains the various risk factors that predispose individuals to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is a serious global health concern, affecting millions of people all over the world. It manifests either as Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, the former being an autoimmune disease more common among children and teens, and the latter being an acquired disease that tends to develop later in life. Understanding the causes of diabetes can help you prevent it more effectively. Read on to understand the risk factors that predispose individuals to this disease.
An autoimmune disease, Type 1 diabetes develops when the immune system attacks itself, destroying the cells that produce insulin, which regulates the amount of sugar in the blood. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas releases too little insulin or becomes completely unable to create it. This results in high blood sugar levels and a lot of complications in various body organs.
The exact causes of Type 1 diabetes are currently unknown. However, its risk factors include:
Family history. Having a sibling or a parent with Type 1 diabetes may mean you are at increased risk of having this disease.
Genetics. The presence of certain genes may predispose you to Type 1 diabetes.
Race and geography. As one moves farther away from the equator, the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes also increases.
Other environmental factors such as viruses and unhealthy diet. In addition to those mentioned above, exposure to viruses and unhealthy eating habits can lead to Type 1 diabetes.
What causes Type 2 diabetes?
Now that we’ve tackled the causes of Type 1 diabetes, let’s discuss Type 2 diabetes, the more prevalent variant of the disease.
In Type 2 diabetes, the body becomes insulin-resistant. Hence, it becomes unable to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood, which leads to hyperglycemia or raised blood sugar levels.
Multiple, and often complex, factors may cause Type 2 diabetes—which is another way of saying it’s difficult to pinpoint its exact causes. We also have to consider that what causes this disease may be different for everyone, depending on their diet and lifestyle.
But although there’s no single, definite cause of Type 2 diabetes, there are common factors that predispose an individual to this disease.
The most common of these is genetics. If there’s anyone among your family who experienced diabetes, you’re more likely to develop this disease later in life, compared with others who don’t have any family history of this disease.
In addition to genetics, some of the other factors that increase a person’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes are as follows.
1. Reaching middle age or older
Specific changes relating to getting older can predispose an individual to diabetes, such as slower metabolism making you more prone to weight gain, hypertension, and lack of physical activity. All these play a role in Type 2 diabetes, which brings us to the next point.
2. Overweight and obesity, insufficient exercise, and poor diet.
You’re more likely to develop diabetes if you’re overweight and not exercising regularly. In addition, the location of extra fats in your body also matters. Excess weight in the belly is linked to Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and complications in the heart and blood vessels.
3. High-blood pressure (especially in middle-aged patients)
Around 80% of people with Type 2 diabetes also suffer from hypertension. If you’re diagnosed with diabetes, expect your physician to monitor your blood pressure as well. Having both conditions can further increase the likelihood of developing complications in the heart, kidneys, and other organs.
4. Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes may occur in women during pregnancy. During the second trimester, the woman’s body undergoes a lot of physical and hormonal changes that may lead to insulin resistance. This happens in around 9% of pregnant women. However, while the symptoms of gestational diabetes may disappear a few weeks after giving birth, research suggests that it may predispose women to Type 2 diabetes later in life.