Causes of diabetes

Diabetes causes vary depending on your genetic makeup, family history, ethnicity, health and environmental factors. There is no common diabetes cause that fits every type of diabetes as the causes of diabetes vary depending on the individual and the type.

Type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system destroying the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. This  leaves the body with little or no insulin to take glucose from your blood into your cells. Your body can then not use the food you eat. This is called an autoimmune reaction, or autoimmune cause, because the body is attacking itself. You then need daily insulin injections to survive.

There are no specific diabetes causes, but the following triggers may be involved:

  • Viral or bacterial infection
  • Chemical toxins within food
  • Unidentified component causing autoimmune reaction
  • Severe physical or emotional shock

Underlying genetic disposition may also be a Type 1 diabetes cause.

Type 2 diabetes causes are usually multi-factorial. Often, the most overwhelming factor is a family history of Type 2 diabetes. There are a variety of risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, any or all of which increase the chances of developing the condition. These include:

  • Obesity
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle
  • Increasing age
  • Unhealthy diet

Other Type 2 diabetes causes, such as pregnancy or illness, can be Type 2 diabetes risk factors.

The cause of gestational diabetes, also known as diabetes in pregnancy, remains unknown. However, there are risk factors that increase the chances:

  • Family history of gestational diabetes
  • Overweight or obese
  • Suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Have had a large baby weighing over 4kg
  • Causes of gestational diabetes may also be related to ethnicity. Some ethnic groups have a higher risk of gestational diabetes.

Other causes

There are other potential diabetes causes. These include:

  • Pancreatitis or pancreatectomy as a cause of diabetes. Pancreatitis is known to increase the risk of developing diabetes, as is a pancreatectomy.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). One of the root causes of PCOS is obesity-linked insulin resistance, which may also increase the risk of pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
  • Cushing’s syndrome. This syndrome increases production of the cortisol hormone which serves to increase blood glucose levels. An over-abundance of cortisol can cause diabetes.
  • Glucagonoma. Patients with glucagonoma may experience diabetes because of a lack of equilibrium between levels of insulin production and glucagon production.
  • Steroid-induced diabetes (steroid diabetes) is a rare form of diabetes that occurs due to prolonged use of glucocorticoid therapy.