What Causes Diabetes

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The Causes of Diabetes

Answering the question of what causes diabetes is not as simple and straightforward as most people think. Diabetes is a complex and still only partially understood condition. This article will give a general description of the causes of diabetes. For more detailed information, please see your physician or other healthcare professional.

What Causes Diabetes Mellitus Type 1?

As previously mentioned, Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus is primarily caused by cells of the immune system attacking the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin (beta cells). This can occur at any age but is most commonly diagnosed in adolescents in their mid to late teens and early 20’s. Unfortunately, T1DM is a genetic disorder and cannot be prevented by lifestyle modifications or any medical treatments that are currently available.

What Causes Diabetes Mellitus Type 2?

Unlike T1DM, Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus is caused by and/or related to a multitude of factors, including obesity, a high-calorie diet, lack of exercise, and genetic susceptibility.

What causes diabetes

The major risk factors for T2DM include the following:1

  • Age greater than 45 years (although it is occurring with increasing frequency in younger individuals)

  • Weight greater than 120% of desirable body weight (See Body Mass Index (BMI)).

  • Family history of type 2 diabetes in a first-degree relative (e.g., parent or sibling)

  • Hispanic, Native American, African American, Asian American, or Pacific Islander descent

  • History of previous impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG) (See Fasting Blood Glucose)

  • Hypertension (>140/90 mm Hg) or dyslipidemia (HDL cholesterol level < 40 mg/dL or triglyceride level >150 mg/dL) (See Blood Pressure)

The GOOD NEWS in the case of T2DM is that you can control many of the risk factors for the disease with proper diet, nutrition, and exercise programs. See EMG’s Exercise and Nutrition sections for more information to combat T2DM.

EMG Health Homepage: Men’s Health Introduction

1. Khardori R, Griffing GT. Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/117853-overview#aw2aab6b2b5.: Medscape Reference; 2012.