Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas have been destroyed. Nobody knows for sure why these cells have been damaged but the most likely cause is an abnormal reaction of the body to the cells. This may be triggered by a viral or other infection.
If you are white and over 40 years old, or if you’re black, Asian or from a minority ethnic group and over 25 years old and have one or more of the following risk factors, you should ask for a test for diabetes.
The risk factors
- A close member of your family has Type 2 diabetes (parent or brother or sister). There will be a predisposition to diabetes and you are more likely to develop the condition.
- You’re overweight or if your waist is 31.5 inches or over for women; 35 inches or over for Asian men and 37 inches or over for white and black men. The more overweight and the more inactive you are the greater your risk. Check your BMI.
- If you are African-Caribbean or South Asian living in the UK you are at least five times more likely to have diabetes than the white population.
- You’re a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome and you are overweight.
- You’ve been told you have impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glycaemia. This means the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood is higher than normal but you don’t have diabetes. If this is the case you should follow a healthy diet, lose weight if you need to and keep active, to help yourself prevent diabetes.
- If you’ve been diagnosed with any problems with your circulation, had a heart attack or stroke, or if you’ve got high blood pressure you may be at an increased risk of diabetes.
- If you’re a woman and you’ve had gestational diabetes. (Diabetes during pregnancy). Having this, or giving birth to a large baby, can increase the risk of a woman going on to develop diabetes in the future.
- You have severe mental health problems.
The more risk factors that apply to you, the greater your risk of having diabetes.
Our toxic environment can play a huge part in the development of diabetes.
A recent American study looked at people’s exposure to arsenic, a toxic trace element commonly found in drinking water supplies. They found that type 2 diabetics had a 26% higher levels of arsenic in their urine than non-diabetics and that the arsenic was most likely derived from drinking water. Other tests in Taiwan, Bangladesh, and Mexico showed people living with high levels of arsenic in the water were up to 10 times more likely to develop the disease.
Another family of toxins that may be aiding the diabetic epidemic are ‘persistent organic pollutants’ (POPs) that include dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dichlordiphenyldichloro-ethylene (DDE, from pesticides), and hexachlorocyclohexanes. Recently reports have emerged documenting elevated diabetes in people who are exposed to high levels of these pollutants. Even low level dioxin exposure has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes. Animal fats retain the POPs which is the reason that obesity is associated with diabetes.
There are many other environmental toxins that could be contributing to diabetes but few of us would think of electricity. Scientists at Trent University in Ontario, Canada, have been researching a form of electromagnetic pollution known as ‘dirty electricity’. This refers to surges of high frequency voltage or electromagnetic radiation that contaminate the normal power lines around us. These surges are generated by electrical equipment such as computers, plasma televisions, energy-efficient light bulbs and dimmer switches. Scientists are able to measure dirty electricity and have found that it is harmful to health and linked to asthma, ADHD, multiple sclerosis and diabetes.
Although diabetes cannot be cured, it can be treated.