Bacteria and other weird causes of type 2 diabetes

Earlier this month, a study linked prolonged exposure to toxins from a certain bacteria to the development of type 2 diabetes.

With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at some of the more unusual links to the onset of type 2 diabetes, compared to the more well-known causes.

Bacteria

The bacteria link is courtesy of microbiologists from the University of Iowa.

They first observed insulin resistance and glucose tolerance – two symptoms of type 2 – in rabbits that were exposed to a toxin produced by the Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria. This is found on the skin and in the human respiratory tract.

They also noted that following staph colonisation examinations on four patients with diabetes, the superantigen levels (toxins produced by all strains of bacteria) among those heavily colonised by staph were comparable to the doses that led to the rabbits developing type 2 symptoms.

The research team believe that colonisation of staph bacteria is increasingly likely during weight gain, but hope that their findings could lead to a vaccine against superantigens and prevent type 2 diabetes developing.

Traffic

Last month, a Swedish study revealed that exposure to traffic noise could increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. This was due to the stress it caused people.

This stress reportedly led to a heightened likelihood of obesity, with researchers observing a link between traffic noise and waist size.

As stress increases the risk of obesity by slowing down the metabolism, people burn fewer calories. Moreover, stress increases cortisol production, which can augment glucose distribution into the blood so the body demands more insulin. Thus, insulin resistance can develop, and the risk of type 2 diabetes can increase.

Additionally, a two-year study in April concluded that living next to heavy traffic increased inflammation in insulin-treated type 2 diabetes patients.

Childhood bullying

This came about through King’s College London researchers, who found that bullied children have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

20 per cent of 7,000 men and women studied, who were bullied frequently, had higher levels of C-reactive protein, a blood inflammation marker. As well as increasing the risk of heart disease, inflammation is a primary cause of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

The researchers highlighted the need to treat psychological problems in order to prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, with current prevention treatment largely focusing on lifestyle interventions.

Artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners were shown in 2014 to be linked with higher blood sugars due to changes in gut bacteria.

With hyperglycemia linked to type 2 diabetes, Israeli researchers monitored sweetener intake, gut bacteria, weight and the level of glucose intolerance in 400 people. Significant changes to different gut bacteria were observed following the highest levels of consumed sweeteners, while these participants also had increased glucose intolerance.

The researchers then transferred the gut bacteria from humans in the large saccharin dose trial into mice lacking gut bacteria. These mice subsequently developed hyperglycemia, indicating that artificial sweeteners could potentially cause type 2 diabetes.

What are some of the reported causes of type 2 diabetes that have surprised you the most? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Jack Woodfield

Jack is Editorial Manager of Diabetes.co.uk. He works hard, plays fair and sleeps whenever possible. He has type 1 diabetes, doesn't mind being called a "diabetic", and once won a talent show for dancing to Dario G’s 1997 hit “Sunchyme”.

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