What Are The Causes of Diabetes?

Causes of diabetes differ, depending on the type of diabetes mellitus. The cause of type 1 diabetes is the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin. The body is insulin deficient in type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes causes differ from that of diabetes type 1 cause. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas produces and releases insulin, but the body is not able to use insulin.

Gestational diabetes results from the stress of pregnancy on the body. Other causes of diabetes mellitus include medications that result in insulin resistance and brain injury or disease, like Alzheimer’s disease. Disease of the brain can stop the brain from telling the pancreas to release insulin.

Causes of Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is caused by inheritance or environment. Sometimes people inherit genes that make the immune system or other diseases to destroy the ability of the pancreas to make and release insulin. When the diabetes is caused by the destruction of the pancreas by the immune system, it is said to have autoimmune causes. Type 1 diabetes that is caused by autoimmune disease may run in the family.

You are more likely to get type 1 diabetes from your parents if:

  • Your father had the disease.
  • Your mother has the disease and you were born before she turned 25 years of age.
  • Your parent with type 1 diabetes developed the disease before she turned 11 years of age.
  • Both parents have type 1 diabetes. Inheritance is one of the causes of diabetes.
  • Habits can bring about infections which destroy the ability of the pancreas to make and release insulin. Viruses are known to cause the destruction of the pancreas and lead to type 1 diabetes.

The following viruses can destroy the islet cells of the pancreas and cause diabetes:

  • Rubella virus that causes rubella.
  • Coxsackie B virus that causes a disease called pleurodynia.
  • Mumps virus that causes mumps.
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Epstein-Barr virus that cause mononucleosis
  • Adenovirus that causes upper respiratory infections and fever.
  • Rotavirus that causes diarrhea, fever and vomiting.

Viruses are one of the causes of diabetes.

Other Causes Type 1 Diabetes

Causes of type 1 diabetes include cold weather, early introduction of solid foods to infants. Infants who are not breastfed are at a higher risk for type 1 diabetes than those who are breast fed.

Causes of Type 2 Diabetes

The causes of type 2 diabetes can be combination of inheritance and environment. Type 2 diabetes is largely inherited, but environment plays a big role as to when the person will develop the disease. Things that influence the development of diabetes mellitus type 2 are diet, obesity and lifestyle. Good diet, exercise and active lifestyle can prevent or significantly delay the development of non-insulin dependent diabetes. A major issue here is that people who are related do sometimes have the same diet and lifestyle and this may make it seem that inheritance plays more role that it actually does.

  • You are at high risk for type 2 diabetes if your parent has the disease; the risk is higher if the parent developed the disease before the age of 50 years. The risk is also higher if the parent with the disease is your mother. If a mother had uncontrolled gestational diabetes, the risk that the baby will develop type 2 diabetes in adulthood is significantly increased. Children of parents with maturity-onset diabetes of the young are at the greatest risk.
  • Diet affects the risk of diabetes mellitus type 2. Poor diet is a cause of diabetes. Eating too much food that contains carbohydrate, fats and protein, can cause obesity and put too much stress on the pancreas. The pancreas can then get tired due to continuous demand. Foods that can cause the pancreas to work hard are carbohydrates and other foods with high glycemic index like bread, rice, cakes, candy, ice cream, etc.
  • Obesity is another cause of type 2 diabetes. In obesity, the body mass index or BMI increases. BMI is the ratio of body weight to height. If two people weigh 140 pounds, but one is shorter, the shorter person has higher BMI. Higher BMI increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Obesity results in excess body fat which causes insulin resistance. This insulin resistance leads to higher blood glucose levels. Higher blood sugar leads to more fat and more insulin resistance. This finally leads to diabetes. This is why pre type 2 diabetes is sometimes marked by significant weight gain. Obesity is one of the causes of diabetes. Childhood obesity increases the risk of children to become type 2 diabetics.
  • Another important cause of type 2 diabetes mellitus is lack of exercise or sedentary lifestyle. When people do not exercise, much of the blood sugar from food do not get used for energy. Instead, this sugar sits in the blood and depends on the pancreas to release all the insulin for storage. When the liver storage is full and the muscles cannot store any more glycogen, the rest get converted to fat. Fat storage leads to obesity and increased BMI which causes type 2 diabetes. Sedentary lifestyle is identified as one of the causes of diabetes.
  • Age is another cause of type 2 diabetes. This diabetes is usually seen in people who are over forty years of age. The autoimmune disease that results in insulin resistance increases with age. The pancreas also gets weaker with age. People get less active as they get older, resulting in more sedentary lifestyle which leads to diabetes.

Causes of Gestational Diabetes

The cause of gestational diabetes is insulin resistance. During pregnancy, the placenta releases some hormones into the pregnant mother’s blood. One of such hormone is the human placental lactogen. These hormones cause insulin resistance and usually require that the pregnant mother make more insulin, to make up for the resistance. In some pregnant women, the extra insulin release does not make up for the insulin resistance. This can be due to inherited resistance that is more severe than normal or pancreas that cannot release enough insulin to make up for the increased need for insulin. Gestational diabetes usually starts between the 20th and 24th week of pregnancy. Pregnancy can be said to be one of the causes of diabetes.

Medication Induced Diabetes

Some antipsychotic medications have been found to cause type 2 diabetes, metabolic acidosis and even ketoacidosis. This happens even when the patient is not obese. Some of these medications have been implicated in obesity, complicating the risk for type 2 diabetes. The atypical antipsychotics have been observed to cause insulin resistance. They are grouped below from the most likely to the least likely to cause diabetes:

  • Clozapine (Clozaril)– most likely
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Risperidone (Risperdal) and Quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • Ziprasidone (Geodon)
  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)– least likely

Other medications can contribute to causes of diabetes mellitus in different ways. Some can cause the brain to decrease signal to make and release insulin. These medications include:

  • Phenytoin, also called Dilantin, is an anticonvulsant that is used to treat seizures. Phenytoin blocks insulin release in the pancreas and causes hyperglycemia.
  • Beta-Adrenergic Agonists (used to treat asthma) It decreases the sensitivity of insulin.
  • Interferon-alpha which is used to treat hepatitis C. This medication causes autoimmune attack on the body, which leads to insulin resistance.
  • Nicotinic Acid is used to lower cholesterol. It can destroy the liver and raise blood glucose levels.
  • Steroids like prednisone cause the body to release sugar into the body. This sugar is released from storage in the liver, fats and muscles. Therapy is used to treat cancer, infections and inflammations.
  • Pentamidine is a drug that is used to treat pneumonia, fungal and other infections. Pentamidine can destroy the beta cells of the pancreas and result in decrease in insulin secretion. Pentamidine can also destroy brain cells and reduce the ability of the brain to send signal to the pancreas to tell it to release insulin.
  • Diazoxide: Makes the pancreas produce less insulin. Diazoxide can be used to treat hypoglycemia.
  • Thiazides are a type of diuretic. They can be used to reduce blood volume, so used effectively to treat hypertension and heart disease. However, these medicines also decrease insulin secretion and also cause insulin resistance. This medication can also cause dehydration. These result in increased blood sugar.

The above medications are some of the causes of diabetes, each to a different degree.

Causes of Diabetes Due to Problem With The Brain

Alzheimer’s disease and other diseases of the brain are some causes of diabetes. These diseases can make the brain lose its capacity to regulate the pancreas. If the pancreas does not get the right signal, it may not be able to synthesize and release insulin. Return from Causes of Diabetes to Diabetes Home

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