Frequently Asked Questions

7. What causes diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. In an autoimmune reaction, antibodies, or immune cells, attach to the body's own healthy tissues by mistake, signaling the body to attack them.

At present, scientists do not know exactly what causes the body's immune system to attack the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas in people with type 1 diabetes. However, many believe that both genetic factors and environmental factors are involved. Studies now are underway to identify these factors and prevent type 1 diabetes in people at risk.

Type 2 diabetes—the most common form of diabetes—is caused by a combination of factors, including insulin resistance, a condition in which the body’s muscle, fat, and liver cells do not use insulin effectively. Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can no longer produce enough insulin to compensate for the impaired ability to use insulin.

Get more details about who should be tested for diabetes.