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What is the main cause of type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is the main form of diabetes found in France: it is estimated that 92% of diabetics are affected, compared to only 6% for type 1 diabetes, according to the French Federation of Diabetics (FFD). It is therefore essential to understand the origin of type 2 diabetes in order to adopt the right preventive measures as early as possible.

The origin of type 2 diabetes

While pancreatic dysfunction is the common cause of both types of diabetes, how radically it manifests itself depends on whether you are talking about type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

The pancreas is involved

Type 1 diabetes is now considered an autoimmune disease: the beta cells of the pancreas disappear, preventing glucose from being properly absorbed by the body. The unabsorbed glucose thus returns to the bloodstream, raising the blood sugar level. The body can no longer secrete insulin, which is why patients with type 1 diabetes are called insulin-dependent.

With type 2 diabetes, the pancreas also causes the disease. In this case, the pancreas still has the ability to secrete insulin, but it is not produced in sufficient quantities: this is commonly known as insulinopenia. When there is a decrease in the cellular and tissue response to insulin, this condition is called insulin resistance.

Is type 2 diabetes genetic?

Heredity plays a role in the development of diabetes, but particularly in the case of type 2 diabetes. Here is some data from the French Federation of Diabetics.

If one of a child’s two biological parents has type 2 diabetes, the probability of passing the disease on to their offspring is 40%, compared to an average of 6% for type 1 diabetes. It is also important to note that if both parents have type 2 diabetes, then their child will have a 70% chance of also having it.

Lifestyle patterns related to the development of type 2 diabetes

As we have just seen, hereditary transmission is one of the factors leading to the development of type 2 diabetes. This does not mean that other risk factors should automatically be dismissed: quite the contrary. Lifestyle plays a predominant role in the development of this condition. Indeed, the accumulation of bad dietary habits over the years eventually exhausts the pancreas, which is why type 2 diabetes is often diagnosed in people over 40. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, and a few children or adolescents may be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. This conclusion of the French Federation of Diabetics is also shared by the WHO Global Diabetes Report 2016.

It is also possible to develop type 2 diabetes due to a poor lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activity, smoking, stress and irregular sleep often contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. In the long term, this lifestyle can lead to obesity or being overweight, which are also responsible for the development of the disease.

The onset of type 2 diabetes is therefore linked to several risk factors, which can sometimes combine, increasing the likelihood of the disease. Taking action on your lifestyle is a matter of personal responsibility, and can indeed reduce the risk of developing a particularly burdensome chronic disease.

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