What Causes Type 1 Diabetes?
T1D has genetic, environmental and immune components Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that controls blood-sugar levels. T1D develops when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, called beta cells. Research is underway to find out what causes T1D—and how to stop it—but we already know that there are multiple components in play. Genes and family history Certain genes increase a person’s risk of developing T1D, as does family history. If you have a relative with T1D, your risk of developing it is 1 in 20, which is 15 times greater than the general population. The genetic coding that puts you at higher risk for T1D is in a large part related to your body’s immune response. Environmental triggers Although genes are important in determining risk, they aren’t the whole story. Environmental factors, such as viruses, may trigger T1D in people who are genetically at risk. Scientists believe that certain viruses may target beta cells, and as the immune response ramps up to fight those viruses, it goes awry and attacks uninfected beta cells by mistake. Continue reading >>