A look back again at a post from September 2005. The only thing I know of that’s changed on this topic in the past years is the notion that the viral infection at issue was not necessarily a recent one, but rather an illness you may have had years earlier, long before the diabetes reared its ugly head. In any case, you still had to have “the right set of genes,” doctors tell me.
What viral link am I talking about here? Read on…
Type 1 Diabetes – A Viral Thing?
Here’s something I’ve been curious about for a long time. For a while I’ve been corresponding with a number of adult “late-onset” Type 1 (LADA) diabetics like myself who were told their disease manifested itself due to a virus. Strange, but a leading theory…
I looked into this and discovered that the medical profession is pretty much still baffled about why people get Type 1 diabetes as adults. If we have the “genetic propensity,” then why doesn’t it manifest itself sooner? Adult-onset does appear to be more and more frequent, but why should this be if Type 1 is not brought on by poor diet or lifestyle?
Here’s one excellent link about What Causes Type 1 Diabetes from the University of Maryland Medical Center.
* An infection introduces a viral protein that resembles a beta-cell protein
* T cells and antibodies are tricked by this resemblance into attacking the beta protein as well as the virus
* Two people may be infected with the same virus and only one of them who is genetically prone will go on to develop diabetes
* Among the viruses under scrutiny (suspected of triggering the Big D) are enteric viruses, which attack the intestinal tract. Coxsackie viruses are an enteric virus of particular interest.
* BUT: One study has suggested that respiratory infection during a child’s first year may actually be protective against diabetes, perhaps priming the immune response so that it is better able to respond to alien organisms later on.
Gotcha. As usual, the theory sounds quite reasonable, but there is also intriguing evidence to suggest the opposite.
What have we learned?
It does seem pretty clear that adult-onset Type 1 is brought about by the killer combo of genetic programming and some kind of physical weakness, if you will. In my case, I was totally run down and probably would have been hospitalized for advanced-stage Rock-Star exhaustion if the diabetes hadn’t hit me first. Ugh…
A few more links of interest that discuss the virus theory include:
NewFitness on types of diabetes
Diabetes Health on seasonal risk factors
NewScientist on infection and diabetes risk
Not only medically, but psychologically, the quest for WHY is always essential… no?