The #1 Cause of Diabetes, Says Science

·4 min read

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "37.3 million US adults have diabetes, and 1 in 5 of them don't know they have it, " the CDC states and in addition, "In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled." There's three main types of diabetes, type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes and there's no cure, but there are lifestyle choices that help prevent type 2, which is the most common. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

What to Know About Diabetes

Doctor with glucometer and insulin pen device talking to male patient at medical office in hospital.
Doctor with glucometer and insulin pen device talking to male patient at medical office in hospital.

The CDC says, "Diabetes is a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how your body turns food into energy. Most of the food you eat is broken down into sugar (also called glucose) and released into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar goes up, it signals your pancreas to release insulin. Insulin acts like a key to let the blood sugar into your body's cells for use as energy."

2

Symptoms of Diabetes

Close-up of pretty young woman drinking water from glass
Close-up of pretty young woman drinking water from glass

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases shares, "Symptoms of diabetes include"

–Increased thirst and urination

–Increased hunger

–Fatigue

–Blurred vision

–Numbness or tingling in the feet or hands

–Sores that do not heal

–Unexplained weight loss

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes can start quickly, in a matter of weeks. Symptoms of type 2 diabetes often develop slowly—over the course of several years—and can be so mild that you might not even notice them. Many people with type 2 diabetes have no symptoms. Some people do not find out they have the disease until they have diabetes-related health problems, such as blurred vision or heart trouble."

3

Type 1 Diabetes

According to the NIDDK, "Type 1 diabetes occurs when your immune system, the body's system for fighting infection, attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Scientists think type 1 diabetes is caused by genes and environmental factors, such as viruses, that might trigger the disease. Studies such as TrialNet are working to pinpoint causes of type 1 diabetes and possible ways to prevent or slow the disease."

4

Type 2 Diabetes

The NIDDK explains, "Type 2 diabetes—the most common form of diabetes—is caused by several factors, including lifestyle factors and genes.

Overweight, obesity, and physical inactivity

You are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if you are not physically active and are overweight or obese. Extra weight sometimes causes insulin resistance and is common in people with type 2 diabetes. The location of body fat also makes a difference. Extra belly fat is linked to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and heart and blood vessel disease. To see if your weight puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes, check out these Body Mass Index (BMI) charts.

Insulin resistance

Type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, a condition in which muscle, liver, and fat cells do not use insulin well. As a result, your body needs more insulin to help glucose enter cells. At first, the pancreas makes more insulin to keep up with the added demand. Over time, the pancreas can't make enough insulin, and blood glucose levels rise.

Genes and family history

As in type 1 diabetes, certain genes may make you more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The disease tends to run in families and occurs more often in these racial/ethnic groups:

African Americans

Alaska Natives

American Indians

Asian Americans

Hispanics/Latinos

Native Hawaiians

Pacific Islanders

Genes also can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes by increasing a person's tendency to become overweight or obese."

5

Gestational Diabetes

The CDC says, "Gestational diabetes develops in pregnant women who have never had diabetes. If you have gestational diabetes, your baby could be at higher risk for health problems. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after your baby is born but increases your risk for type 2 diabetes later in life. Your baby is more likely to have obesity as a child or teen, and more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life too."

6

Prediabetes

woman-measuring-blood-sugar-diabetes
woman-measuring-blood-sugar-diabetes

The CDC reports, "In the United States, 96 million adults—more than 1 in 3—have prediabetes. What's more, more than 8 in 10 of them don't know they have it. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Prediabetes raises your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. The good news is if you have prediabetes, a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program can help you take healthy steps to reverse it."