What Causes Diabetes?

Updated at: Oct 19, 2011
What Causes Diabetes?

The causes of diabetes depend on a person's medical history, kind of lifestyle and her/his age.

Dr Poonam Sachdev
DiabetesWritten by: Dr Poonam SachdevPublished at: Sep 13, 2011

Diabetes has become almost an epidemic in adults. The three main types of diabetes are Type 1 diabetes (insulin dependent diabetes mellitus), Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus or adult onset diabetes) and gestational diabetes. Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus or adult onset diabetes) is the commonest type of diabetes. Read to know what causes type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes:


Type 1 diabetes


Type 1 diabetes is thought to be an autoimmune disease. A healthy immune system helps to fight the germs (bacteria and virus) to prevent infection and diseases. But when the immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin it can destroy them and lead to insulin deficiency and type 1 diabetes.

  • Family history: Studies suggest a genetic predisposition in the occurrence of type 1 diabetes. It may run in families.
  • Environmental factors: Some common unavoidable viral infections probably lead to type 1 diabetes.
  • Race: Type 1 diabetes is more common in people of non-Hispanic, Northern European descent (especially Finland and Sardinia), followed by African Americans and Hispanic Americans and is rare in people of Asian descent.
  • Sex: Type 1 diabetes occurs more commonly in boys than girls.


Type 2 diabetes


In people with type 2 diabetes, in the initial stages the pancreas produces enough insulin, but the cells do not respond effectively to insulin due to insulin resistance. This causes increase in blood sugar levels. However, after a few years, insulin production in type 2 diabetes decreases.

  • Family history: Genetic link for type 2 diabetes is stronger— a positive family history is much more likely for type 2 diabetes. The exact gene which causes type 2 diabetes is not known but several genes have been identified.
  • Risk factors: Some factors increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Age: The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with age. Type 2 diabetes is more common in older adults. The risk starts to increase by the age of 45 years, and rises considerably after the age of 65.
  • High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol: Both these conditions increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and several other diseases such as heart attack and stroke.
  • History of Gestational Diabetes: Risk of type 2 diabetes in the future is higher in women with a history of gestational diabetes or a woman who has delivered a baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
  • Eating Habits: Unhealthy eating such as eating processed foods, food high in fats and salt, and diet deficient in whole foods, fruits and vegetables increases the risk of both obesity and diabetes.
  • High alcohol intake.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: A sedentary lifestyle is considered to be a major risk factor for obesity and type 2 diabetes.
  • Race: People belonging to certain racial groups, such as African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Japanese Americans, are at greater risk of type 2 diabetes.


Read more articles on Diabetes Causes and Risks



All possible measures have been taken to ensure accuracy, reliability, timeliness and authenticity of the information; however Onlymyhealth.com does not take any liability for the same. Using any information provided by the website is solely at the viewers’ discretion. In case of any medical exigencies/ persistent health issues, we advise you to seek a qualified medical practitioner before putting to use any advice/tips given by our team or any third party in form of answers/comments on the above mentioned website.

This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK