Ethics in Medicine

The Puzzling Rise in Type I Diabetes

Kristen Sparrow • February 20, 2012

From Scientific American February 2012
“A Diabetes Cliff Hanger” Researchers are balled by the worldwide increase in type 1 diabetes, the less common form of the disease.
From the article, it says 90% of the 350 million people around the world who have diabetes mellitus have type 2 diabetes, or non-insulin dependent diabetes, as we used to call it. Type 1 diabetes requires insulin shots and often starts in childhood. This second type of diabetes has been rising by 3 to 5% per year. Type I diabetes has not classically been associated with obesity, so the reason for the rise in rates has scientists puzzled. Since the rise in Type 1 diabetes is world wide, the cause must be world wide also. Here are some of the hypotheses.
1. Gluten. Type 1 diabetics are more likely to have celiac disease which is caused by gluten intolerance. There has been a world wide increase in the amount of gluten most people consume over the decades.
2. Hygiene hypothesis. This is the hypothesis that links clean modern lifestyles and allergies. Since living hygienically deprives developing immune systems from early exposure to infections and soil organisms, it not only overreacts to allergens, but to the bodies own tissues, including insulin producing cells in the pancreas.
3. Fat. Perhaps there is a link between being overweight and developing Type I diabetes afterall. It may be possible to “burn out” your insulin producing cells by overtaxing them with too much food or the wrong kinds of food.