Journal: News & Comment

Sunday, October 13, 2002
# 9:54:00 AM:

Diabetes explained simply

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I've had Type 1 diabetes since 1991, and take insulin injections three times a day. People often ask me to explain the disease, but this article from Reuters provides a better, more succinct summary than I've ever managed:

Diabetes, which can lead to heart and circulatory disease, kidney failure and blindness, is caused by a shortage of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, or by the body's failure to respond to it.

In Type 1 diabetes, the body's immune system attacks cells in the insulin-making parts of the pancreas, called the islets of Langerhans. The body is then unable to control blood sugar levels and insulin must be injected daily.

Type 2 diabetes, which is more common, arises when the body becomes resistant to insulin, often as a result of obesity.

And there you have it. While the two types are physiologically quite different -- almost opposites -- each has the same effect: raising average sugar concentrations in the bloodstream. If not regulated, that sugar can be toxic in the long term.


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