How do people get diabetes? For such a common disease, there is still a lot of mystery around what causes diabetes. There are a number of different ways, but rest assured the disease is not contagious! So, don’t worry about catching it like you would a cold.
Unfortunately, doctors are still not entirely sure of the exact cause of diabetes, despite extensive research and study. The best that they have come up with is that different types of diabetes seem to have different causes.
They have also determined that certain people are at a higher risk of contracting diabetes, although it depends on which type of diabetes we are talking about here.
The causes of Type 2 diabetes seem to boil down to four root causes. These four causes were determined by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).
Heredity. Genetics can be a big factor is determining whether you get diabetes. Certain ethnic groups are also more prone to developing diabetes, including African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics, and some Asians and native Hawaiians.
Lifestyle Choices. Poor eating habits, lack of physical exercise, and obesity are very big factors in whether someone develops diabetes. So, put down the doughnut and get exercising.
Stress. Just when you thought we couldn’t blame stress for anything else, here you go. Stress may be a factor in developing insulin resistance, leading to type 2 diabetes.
Low Birth Weight. Kids born with a low birth weight seem to have a greater probability of developing type 2 diabetes. A contributing factor could also be the mother’s poor nutrition or nourishment during the pregnancy. Curiously, over nourishing the baby after it is born can make this risk factor worse.
Type 1 Diabetes
Now, here is where it gets a little confusing and a little complicated. The initial triggering of type 1 diabetes may be a virus or other environmental factor (not well defined). The virus causes the immune system to attack the beta cells located in the pancreas. Once destroyed, the beta cells (called the islets of langerhans), stop producing insulin.
Obviously, with no insulin, there is no life. Thus, a type 1 diabetic must take insulin to live. Curiously, there are no conclusive real risk factors associated with developing type 1 diabetes. Nonetheless, the disease disproportionally afflicts Caucasian children. However, anyone can develop type 1 diabetes.
The above theories are the main stream opinion. I have detailed more “Cutting Edge Theories” in this article about why people get diabetes.
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed January 2012.