What Causes Diabetes?

Dr. Edelman answers the question: 'What Causes Diabetes?'

BySteven Edelman, M.D., Professor of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University of California, San Diego

— -- Question: What Causes Diabetes?

Answer: Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. For some reason that we do not entirely understand, the body produces antibodies that destroy the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. This is why people with type 1 diabetes always need to be treated with insulin. Now people with type 1 diabetes also are at risk for other autoimmune conditions such as hypothyroidism.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by a complicated medical condition called insulin resistance or the body is resistant to the glucose-lowering effects of insulin, and by insufficient insulin production by the beta cells of the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes accounting for 85 to 90 percent of the diabetics in this country. It's also important to note that type 2 diabetes is passed along very strongly from generation to generation.

Next: Why Is Diabetes A Growing Problem In This Country?

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