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What is diabetes and what causes it?

Diabetes is a disease caused by multiple factors including genetics, lifestyle and environment. Diabetes patients cannot properly metabolize sugar because of an insulin-resistance or insulin deficiency that results in high blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder affecting the pancreas, preventing the gland from producing insulin. Also known as juvenile diabetes, type 1 is truly an insulin deficiency. Patients require insulin treatment for life – both to live and for the rest of their lives. The cause for type 1 diabetes is not clear although excessively high or low birth weight and viral infection might play a role. Patients with type 2 diabetes might produce insulin but insulin-resistant cells in the liver, skeletal muscle, and/or fat don’t respond well to the insulin and therefore don’t handle the sugars as they should, resulting in high blood sugar. Type 2 diabetes is most common in adults over 40 and contributing risk factors include heredity, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle.

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