What Are the Possible Causes of Type 1 Diabetes?

vitamin d

Story at-a-glance -

  • Even though comprehensive studies have successfully identified Type 1 diabetes as an autoimmune disorder and distinguished it from Type 2 diabetes, researchers still haven’t found out the exact cause the leads to the development of this condition
  • Researchers suggest that Type 1 diabetes could be triggered by an unknown environmental factor

It’s been centuries since Type 1 diabetes was first documented in medical history.1 In more recent years, researchers have been working hard to further understand this disease.

Even though comprehensive studies have successfully identified Type 1 diabetes as an autoimmune disorder and distinguished it from Type 2 diabetes, researchers still haven’t found out the exact cause the leads to the development of this condition.

What they do know is that genetics may play a role in the occurrence of this disease and, just like other autoimmune disorders, something in the environment must trigger the immune system to attack the body’s pancreatic beta cells.2

Certain Genetic Coding Increases the Risk of Type 1 Diabetes

One of the most common questions that people ask when it comes to Type 1 diabetes is, “Is this disease hereditary?” Scientific evidence show that genes may indeed influence a person’s susceptibility to this condition. In fact, researchers have found at least 18 genetic regions that are linked to this disease.3

The human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes found on chromosome 6 remains one of the most studied genome related to Type 1 diabetes. The insulin (INS) genes on chromosome 11 are also suspected to influence the occurrence of this disease.4

According to studies, the risk of developing Type 1 diabetes may increase depending on which family member has this condition. The average risk is lower when only one of the parents is affected. However, the risk may go as high as 40 percent for those who have an identical twin with Type 1 diabetes.5

Keep in mind, though, that having a close relative with Type 1 diabetes does not necessarily mean that you’ll get this condition as well. Due to unknown reasons, some people who inherit the genetic risk for this disease do not develop it.

What Are the Factors That May Trigger Type 1 Diabetes?

As discussed above, Type 1 diabetes may not be caused by genetics alone. Researchers suggest that it could be triggered by an unknown environmental factor. Some of the possible triggers include:

  • Viral infections — Studies suggest that certain viruses may trigger the immune system to attack the body, making it susceptible to type 1 diabetes. Enteroviruses have long been suspected as one of the possible culprits behind this condition.

     

    Some of the known enteroviruses associated with this disease are Coxsackievirus B (CVB), rotavirus, mumps virus and cytomegalovirus.6

  • Early diet — Some controversial studies suggest that drinking cow’s milk may put children at a slightly higher risk of developing Type 1 diabetes. This is due to its bovine insulin content, which is found to increase the number of insulin-binding antibodies.7,8
  • Existing autoimmune conditions — Other autoimmune disorders that share the same HLA complex as Type 1 diabetes may increase risk of developing this condition. These autoimmune disorders include Graves’ disease, multiple sclerosis and pernicious anemia.9
  • Low vitamin D levelVitamin D can help strengthen the immune system and improve insulin production, which is why a shortage of it may put a person at risk of autoimmune diseases like Type 1 diabetes.10
  • Increased insulin production — During teenage years, the body releases higher amounts of insulin. This may stress the beta cells and cause the immune system to attack the body’s insulin-producing cells.11

Other factors that may also play a role in the development of Type 1 diabetes are ethnicity and geography. African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans are found to be more susceptible to this disease than Caucasians.12 Those who are living in northern countries, like the U.S., Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, also have a higher risk of developing Type 1 diabetes than people who live in southern parts of the world.13

< Previous

Type 1 Diabetes Symptoms

Next >

Type 1 Diabetes Treatment

Click Here and be the first to comment on this article
Post your comment