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Question:

From Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA:

How does someone contract diabetes?

Answer:

In a nutshell, contracting diabetes is a combination of genetics and bad luck. Genetic susceptibility is obviously conferred by our parents and although we now know quite a lot about the various genes involved, we still have more to find out. The last time I looked, there were about 22 genes known to have an influence upon diabetes risk. However, this alone is not the whole story since we know that the majority of people with the "wrong" genes will never contract the disease. There is a broadly North - South gradient in incidence with the highest in Finland. This difference is not wholly explained by genetics. There are several environmental factors that are thought to be influential/causal and these include various virus infections, e.g., Coxsackie viruses. There is also particular interest in cow's milk and nitrate intake but it is likely that there are several causes or triggers that start the process of insulin cell destruction that eventually results in diabetes. It may even be that in an individual patient, several factors may conspire to cause diabetes.

Clearly, the more we find out about cause the more chance there is of prevention so you will be pleased to hear that a great deal of effort is being expended on the former.

KJR

Original posting 28 Nov 97

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:54
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