Causes of type 2 diabetes come in two basic categories: behavior related and condition related. Behavior-related causes of type 2 diabetes include poor health habits, such as eating an unhealthy diet, living a sedentary lifestyle, and abusing drugs or alcohol. Condition-related causes include genetics, ethnicity, and aging.
The pancreas in a normal, healthy person releases insulin into his or her body, which helps it process sugar consumed in food. Type 2 diabetes results in insulin resistance, as the body struggles to respond appropriately to insulin. The disease causes the pancreas to slow insulin production or produces very slight amounts of insulin. This issue with the hormone insulin in the body occurs because of one of the numerous causes of type 2 diabetes. When unable to process blood sugar efficiently, the cells of the body struggle to function normally.
Behavior-related causes of type 2 diabetes include poor eating habits, such as a diet high in fat, obesity, and lack of exercise. These behaviors often result in high blood pressure and high fat levels in the blood, called high blood triglycerides, which are known to be causes of type 2 diabetes. Excessive alcohol intake also effects blood sugar levels and may result in type 2 diabetes.
Numerous condition-related causes of type 2 diabetes exist, including genetics, meaning that the condition is inherited due to specific genes passed down through families. Those with a known family history of the disease should be aware that he or she has an escalated risk of developing the condition. A lesser-known form of the disorder called gestational diabetes sometimes occurs when a woman gives birth to a baby weighing 9 pounds (about 4 kilograms) or more. In this case, symptoms are mild and the condition usually disappears after delivering the child. Additionally, the risk of developing the disease rises dramatically after the age of 45 and again rises sharply after the age of 65 years old.
Certain ethnic groups also are more prone to develop type 2 diabetes. For instance, high-risk groups include African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and people of Asian heritage. Doctors do not fully understand why certain ethnicities are more affected than others, but the reasons are likely related to genetics.
Little that can be done to control condition-related causes of type 2 diabetes. When the condition is induced by behavioral causes, however, lifestyle changes can help a patient control it; making lifestyle changes before the onset of the disease also can dramatically decrease the chance of developing the condition. Those at risk for the disease should consult with their physicians to discuss treatment options.