Causes of Type 2 diabetes

Is it possible to discover why I got Type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes develops as a result of a combination of factors, and it’s not possible to know exactly why you have developed the condition. Some risk factors, such as being from a particular ethnic background and having a family history of diabetes, are genetic and therefore beyond your control. Other factors, such as being overweight or inactive, may be the result of your lifestyle. Whatever your circumstances, your diabetes will not go away, but there is a great deal you can do to live with it successfully once you are diagnosed.

Can eating too much sugar cause diabetes?

Not directly. Sugar itself doesn’t cause diabetes but eating sugary foods can make you gain weight, and being overweight can increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. This is the reason that making sure that your weight is in the correct range for your height can help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Could my Type 2 diabetes have been triggered by a viral infection?

No, only Type 1 diabetes can be triggered by a virus in a person who already has a genetic predisposition to diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a different condition from Type 1 diabetes. Your diabetes may have appeared at the same time as you had an illness or viral infection, simply because your body produces extra glucose when you are ill but you are unable to produce the extra insulin you need to deal with this. Consequently, you develop a high blood glucose level and symptoms quite rapidly, and this in turn leads to a diagnosis of diabetes.

Why does being overweight increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes?

Being overweight can make your body cells resistant to the action of the insulin that your body makes. Obesity, which is defined as weighing 20 percent more than your ideal body weight, further increases your risk of Type 2 diabetes. Where you carry extra weight is also important. If you have excess weight around your waist (rather than your hips or thighs), your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is even higher.

Why do some diseases make Type 2 diabetes more likely to develop?

Some diseases other than diabetes can affect how much insulin you make or can stop it from working properly. Any of the following diseases put you at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes: pancreatitis (an inflammation of your pancreas); cystic fibrosis (a genetic condition that causes body secretions to be abnormally thick); and hemochromatosis (a buildup of excess iron that gradually damages your insulin-producing cells). There are also some hormonal disorders that can increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes developing. The main hormonal disorders linked with diabetes are Cushing’s disease, in which your adrenal glands produce excess steroid hormones, and acromegaly, in which your pituitary gland overproduces growth hormone. These hormones prevent your insulin from working properly, which makes your blood glucose level rise.

Is there a link between pregnancy and getting Type 2 diabetes?

Yes. There is a type of diabetes known as gestational diabetes that can start during pregnancy. When you are pregnant, your body increases its blood glucose level to cope with the demands of your growing baby and, in turn, you need more insulin. If your body cannot produce enough insulin, your blood glucose level remains high and gestational diabetes is diagnosed. Once you have had gestational diabetes, you are at an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes because your body has shown that it has a tendency not to regulate your blood glucose levels. You can reduce the likelihood of getting Type 2 diabetes by getting regular physical activity and keeping your weight within the recommended range for your height.

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