Causes of Diabetes
Diabetes causes vary depending on your genetic makeup, family history, ethnicity, health and environmental factors.
There is no common diabetes cause that fits every type of diabetes.
The reason there is no defined diabetes cause is because the causes of diabetes vary depending on the individual and the type.
For instance; the causes of type 1 diabetes vary considerably from the causes of gestational diabetes.
Similarly, the causes of type 2 diabetes are distinct from the causes of type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes causes
Type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system destroying the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This causes diabetes by leaving the body without enough insulin to function normally.
This is called an autoimmune reaction, or autoimmune cause, because the body is attacking itself.
There is no specific diabetes causes, but the following triggers may be involved:
- Viral or bacterial infection
- Chemical toxins within food
- Unidentified component causing autoimmune reaction
Underlying genetic disposition may also be a type 1 diabetes cause.
Type 2 diabetes causes
Type 2 diabetes causes are usually multifactorial - more than one diabetes cause is involved. Often, the most overwhelming factor is a family history of type 2 diabetes.
This is the most likely type 2 diabetes cause.
There are a variety of risk factors for type 2 diabetes, any or all of which increase the chances of developing the condition.
- Living a sedentary lifestyle
- Increasing age
- Bad diet
Other type 2 diabetes causes such as pregnancy or illness can be type 2 diabetes risk factors.
Detailed causes of diabetes are still not so well understood, however, a number of factors have been identified as increasing the chances of developing different types of diabetes.
In this video we’ll look at the causes for the 3 most common types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
- and Gestational diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease, meaning that the body’s immune system attacks its body’s own cells. In type 1 diabetes, the insulin producing cells are steadily killed off by the immune system. Genetic factors are known to play a part with type 1 diabetes often running in families.
Another factor that seems to be at play is that type 1 diabetes is more common in countries further from the equator, suggesting that vitamin D may play a part.
With the prevalence of type 2 diabetes increasing so quickly, there has been much discussion around the causes of this metabolic condition. Genetics is one area of focus with specific genes appearing to increase the likelihood of type 2 diabetes developing.
There are clear links to ethnicity as well with people of South Asian, Middle Eastern and African-Caribbean descent at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. Diet is widely believed to be a factor in type 2 diabetes, however, there is some disagreement as to which parts of our diet could be responsible.
Saturated and trans fats, processed foods and excessive carbohydrate having all been mooted as possible causal factors.
Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that specifically comes on during pregnancy. During the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, with requirements for insulin already growing, hormones released by the placenta can lead to insulin being less effective.
If the mother’s body struggles to produce enough insulin, blood sugar levels can rise resulting in gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes causes
The causes of diabetes in pregnancy also known as gestational diabetes remain unknown. However, there are a number of risk factors that increase the chances of developing this condition:
- Family history of gestational diabetes
- Overweight or obese
- Suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome
- Have had a large baby weighing over 9lb
Causes of gestational diabetes may also be related to ethnicity - some ethnic groups have a higher risk of gestational diabetes.
Other diabetes causes
There are a variety of other potential diabetes causes. These include the following:
- Pancreatitis or pancreatectomy as a cause of diabetes. Pancreatitis is known to increase the risk of developing diabetes, as is a pancreatectomy.
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). One of the root causes of PCOS is obesity-linked insulin resistance, which may also increase the risk of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
- Cushing’s syndrome. This syndrome increases production of the cortisol hormone, which serves to increased blood glucose levels. An over-abundance of cortisol can cause diabetes.
- Glucagonoma. Patients with glucagonoma may experience diabetes because of a lack of equilibrium between levels of insulin production and glucagon production.
- Steroid induced diabetes (steroid diabetes) is a rare form of diabetes that occurs due to prolonged use of glucocorticoid therapy.