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October 18, 2003

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Lancaster, South Carolina, USA:

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 34. I was just told by an oncologist that it was impossible for me to have gotten it at that age. Is he right?


Your age has nothing to do with the type of diabetes that you have. Type�1 diabetes is characterized by the lack of insulin production from the pancreas. Type�2 diabetes is characterized as either a decrease in production (but not the complete lack of production of insulin) or insulin resistance.

The oncologist may have been trying to tell you that, in general, younger individuals develop type 1 diabetes or are diagnosed at an earlier age. However, you can develop type 1 at any age. The oldest person diagnosed in my practice is 86 years old and doing quite well. So it is not the age, but whether you are producing insulin, that makes the determination.