Numerous risk factors cause diabetes
Many causes: Everyone can get diabetes
Unhealthy diet, obesity and lack of exercise were until recently considered the major causes of diabetes. But in the meantime countless studies have proven that the so-called diabetes mellitus is far more complex than originally assumed. Overweight and lack of exercise are therefore only two of many risk factors that can cause diabetes.
Six million people in Germany today suffer from diabetes, with overweight and lack of exercise have always been mentioned as the main causes. But the Professor of Diabetology at the University Hospital in Tübingen and press spokesman of the German Diabetes Association, Andreas Fritsche, now points out in a recent communication that this relatively simple explanation of diabetes can no longer apply today. Among the risk factors for diabetes, according to the expert, for example, lack of sleep, shift work, air pollution and contact with various chemicals. „It seems so banal when we call in the preventive measures of healthy food and exercise, but unfortunately not everyone affected benefits“, emphasized the professor of diabetology.
Insulin first used for diabetes treatment 90 years ago
Around 90 years ago, the first successful treatment of a diabetes patient with insulin is back. In 1922, the Canadian orthopedist Frederick Grant Banting and his student Charles Herbert Best managed to isolate the insulin from the pancreas to save the life of a thirteen-year-old patient. The hope after the successful treatment was great and the scientists were sure to be able to cure diabetes soon. But until now diabetes has only the potential to alleviate the symptoms, but not cure the disease itself. In addition, the causes of the disease are still not fully understood and the more intensively the researchers try to get to the bottom of it, the more risk factors they seem to discover. The conclusion of Martin Hrabé de Angelis, Director of the Institute for Experimental Genetics at Helmholtz Zentrum München: „For a long time, we underestimated the complexity of the disease.“
Only a few diabetics suffer from type 1 diabetes
The risk factors are different depending on the type of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, which affects around five percent of diabetics in Germany, is caused by an absolute lack of the hormone insulin. This form of diabetes usually occurs in childhood and adolescence, the immune system is directed against the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas and destroys them. The resulting insulin deficiency causes the diabetes disease. Why the immune system attacks the body's own cells is still unclear. Type 1 diabetes is still not curable, but can be treated relatively well with insulin. To adjust their blood sugar levels, those affected are dependent on the administration of insulin throughout their lives, not least to avoid secondary diseases such as eye diseases (diabetic retinopathy), vascular diseases (arteriosclerosis), nerve damage and kidney disease.
Type 2 diabetes is influenced by numerous risk factors
The majority of diabetes diseases make up about 90 percent of the colloquially also known as old-age diabetes type 2 diabetes diseases. In principle, this disease can also affect young people, but with age, the risk increases significantly - hence the name. Type 2 diabetes usually develops during the course of life and is favored by a wide variety of risk factors. These include the previously mentioned, unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, obesity, lack of sleep, shift work and air pollution. Also, the type 2 diabetics may have to inject their life insulin and a cure is so far also excluded. Thus, little has changed in the treatment of diabetes in the past 90 years. Only the concentration of the active ingredients and the shape or handling of the syringe has been adjusted several times. Over the years, however, the perception of the disease in the public has changed noticeably, said the professor of diabetology, Andreas Fritsche. „Diabetes is often mistaken for a disease that is not in need of treatment and underestimated by physicians and patients“, complained the expert, stressing that diabetes „a chronic disease“ be that over the years „getting worse“ if there is no appropriate treatment.
Genetic causes of diabetes
The researchers agree, however, that according to the current state of research can not apply a therapy for all diabetics, but depending on the clinical picture and patient individualized treatment methods that are specifically adapted to the diabetes patients and their life situation should be derived. In addition, the experts hope in the coming years, significant progress in the field of genetic causes of diabetes. „We have just met 40 genes that we know can be associated with diabetes“, emphasized the director of the Institute for Experimental Genetics at Helmholtz Zentrum München, Hrabé de Angelis. However, the scientists are aware that not all answers can come from genetics, but that further research work is needed in the field of environmental factors. (Fp)
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