Increasing Incidence of Type 1 Diabetes

by Mark Benson on January 25, 2012

Increasing incidence of Type 1

There are two major forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is the congenital form of this metabolic disease while Type 2 diabetes occurs after the individual’s lifestyle makes the body unable to produce the right amounts of insulin to control blood glucose levels.

Overall, ninety percent of the total number of diabetes sufferers in the world suffers from Type 2 diabetes. The numbers were taken from a World Health Organization survey where it took ten years of records from 112 diabetes research centers in over fifty countries. The condition manifests itself when the individual reaches the age of forty to fifty years of age. This is due mainly to the dietary lifestyle high in fat and sugar coupled with lack of exercise and vices such as alcohol and/or smoking.

On the other hand, of the total of 350 million individuals suffering from diabetes, the ten percent are type 1 diabetics. In this group, there is a need for daily doses of insulin to maintain blood sugar levels and in North America, the number of Type 1 diabetics increase at an average of 5.3 percent per year, four percent in Asia and 3.2 percent in Europe.

The increasing numbers of Type 1 diabetics has become alarming not only to health experts but also to the general public. According to the latest survey, the numbers are three to five percent each year. The age wherein the disease strikes individuals is a cause for great alarm as it also has the potential to hurt, maim and even kill an individual at such a young age.

According to Giuseppina Imperatore of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Increases such as the ones that have been reported cannot be explained by a change in genes in such a short period. So, environmental factors are probably major players in this increase.” Imperatore leads a team of experts and other epidemiologists in the Division of Diabetes Translation to study the increasing effects of the disease in the world.

The peculiarity about Type 1 diabetes is that it is a congenital autoimmune disease wherein the body destroys its very own pancreatic beta cells. As a result, the individual is unable to produce the hormone insulin that is essential for the body to use blood glucose as fuel and regulate blood sugar levels. The main issue besetting diabetes researchers is how do the numbers increase for Type 1 diabetes if it is an autoimmune condition. There are a few theories to why the numbers are increasing for a congenital condition, which are as follows:

Gluten Intake. Researchers theorize that gluten, the protein in wheat may be one of the main causes why the numbers are increasing because of the increasing numbers of individual suffering from celiac disease and the increased intake of highly processed foods have grown over the past decades. Another theory is the intake of root vegetables as stored tubers may contain microscopic fungi that facilitate the development of this metabolic condition in laboratory mice.

Bacterial Infections. This is called the hygiene hypothesis, as bacterial infections, viral outbreaks or parasitic attacks may be the culprit to the increase of the incidence of Type 1 diabetes. The theory states that early exposure to infection develops the immune system in maintaining itself in proper balance. Because of the hygienic lifestyle, many children are deprived of the exposure that deprives them of needed antibodies to fight allergies and other infections. Because of the increased tolerance, other compounds are tolerated even in the body to prevent autoimmune attacks that destroys the beta cells in the pancreas.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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