It is difficult to be conclusive when identifying a cause for a long term condition such as type 2 diabetes, when a number of contributing factors may be present.
Key to the development of type 2 diabetes is the body’s inability to properly respond to insulin.
Researchers from around the globe have studied data and carried out experiments to try to understand what may cause insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes to develop.
Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes
There are a number risk factors that are closely linked to type 2 diabetes, but research is yet to provide clear answers as to how much these factors may be a cause or otherwise an association.
Type 2 diabetes risk factors include:
- Carrying too much excess body fat
- Having high blood pressure or cholesterol
- Having a close family member with type 2 diabetes
- Having previously had gestational diabetes
Dietary factors are often viewed as a prominent cause of diabetes and often incorrect assumptions that it is the only factor linked to a cause are incorrect.
Research indicates that diet can play a part in type 2 diabetes but it is still one factor amongst many others that can apply, and generalisations should not be drawn without the consideration of other contributing factors.
Research has uncovered a number of genes which are associated with an increased risk of diabetes. There are a number of factors which can influence our blood sugar levels, including where we distribute fat on our body and how well our muscles take up glucose from the blood.
Our genes help to control each process in the body and a variation in just one gene which plays a part in metabolism can increase the risk of having difficulty with controlling blood sugar later in life. To date researchers have identified over 60 genes associated with type 2 diabetes.
A number of medications have been linked with increased risks of type 2 diabetes.
However, it may sometimes be difficult to distinguish how much medications may raise the risk of type 2 diabetes in people that are already at risk and how much medications may have been the primary causal factor. In cases where medication is thought to be the primary cause of diabetes, this may be termed as drug induced diabetes.
Stress causes a response from the body to release hormones including the natural steroid hormone cortisol. The stress hormones prepare the body for action by raising blood pressure, blood sugar levels and stiffening muscles but also temporarily suppress the immune system and the digestive process.
Persistently being stressed is referred to as chronic stress and this can have negative effects on health. Research indicates that there is a significant link between chronic stress and insulin resistance.
In February 2013, a Swedish study of 7,000 men showed a 45% increased risk of type 2 diabetes amongst those that were suffering chronic stress.
Pollution, Chemicals and Plastics
Type 2 diabetes has been one of the fastest growing conditions over the course of the last century and researchers have been looking at what other factors could be contributing to the steep rise in the incidence.
In recent years, research has been published which indicates that pollution and other chemicals which we commonly face in our daily lives might increase the risks of type 2 diabetes.
Amongst the chemicals and pollutants that have been linked with diabetes are traffic pollution and a type of chemical found in plastics and some make up products, called phthalates.
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