October 9, 1999
Research: Causes and Prevention
Question from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, USA:
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 15 years old and was taking Diabinese [a pill for type 2 diabetes] for about 2 years after which I was told to watch what I ate. I am now 37 and have not since had any problems with a high blood sugar. I have had two children and do not really watch my diet.
I was wondering if exposure to Dioxin could have caused the positive test when I was young? My father worked at a chemical plant and we found out much later that he had been working with unmarked containers of Dioxin. So naturally he brought the chemical home on his clothes, body and in his truck. I have always heard that you don’t just get rid of diabetes.
The link between Dioxin and diabetes is in any case rather tenuous so that I doubt if there was a connection between your father’s occupation and your transitory diabetes. The diagnosis may have been mistaken, based perhaps on fasting blood sugar levels that were stress elevated. It also is possible that you had a mild variant of what is now called Type 1B diabetes, which unlike most cases in teenagers is not due to an autoimmune disorder. It is relatively uncommon in Caucasian families; but comprises over 50% of new onset cases in African American and Hispanic teenagers in the USA. A proportion of these cases are able to come off both insulin and oral hypoglycemics. Twenty years ago this diabetes variant was not recognised.