Review of The Major Causes of Diabetes

When an individual is diagnosed with diabetes one of the first questions that is asked is..what are the main causes of diabetes?


Diabetes occurs when the pancreas, the organ that produces insulin to control blood sugar levels, doesn't make enough insulin or no insulin is produced. There can also be a situation where the insulin that is produced fails to work effectively in the body. In diabetes, this causes blood sugar levels to become elevated. The causes of diabetes are listed under Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes as these are two very different forms of diabetes.

The Causes of Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes is believed to be an autoimmune disease. The body's immune system attacks the beta cells of the pancreas where insulin is produced.

  • A genetic predisposition to develop Type 1 Diabetes may run in families but much less so than for Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Environmental factors, such as certain types of viral infections, may also contribute to Type 1 Diabetes.
  • Type 1 Diabetes is most common in people of non-Hispanic white persons of Northern European descent, followed by African Americans and Hispanic Americans. It is relatively rare in those of Asian descent.

The Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes is related to diet and lifestyle factors. There may also be a genetic tendency, although genetic factors are not the only reason this condition develops.

Risk factors for developing Type 2 Diabetes include the following:

  • Weight gain & obesity
  • Poor diet, high in fat & sugar
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood triglyceride (fat) levels
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Smoking
  • High alcohol intake
  • Lack of regular exercise
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Ethnicity: Certain groups, such as Australian Aboriginals & Torres Strait Islanders, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian populations have a greater risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Ageing: Increasing age is a significant risk factor for Type 2 Diabetes. Risk begins to rise significantly at about 45 years, and rises considerably after age 65.



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