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April 25, 2007

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Question from Fremont, USA:

Is it possible to shift your diabetes from type 2 to type 1 and cure it gradually by just following all the treatment plans given by the doctor? Type 2 diabetes is formed because cells don't take in the glucose from the insulin; why is this? Is it because of the cell that makes it happen or is there are something wrong with the insulin that make the cell rejected it? What happens to the insulin that got rejected?

Answer:

Type 1 diabetes is associated with destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. They are called beta cells and live in small “islands” within the pancreas called islets. The body’s immune system destroys these and no insulin is produced. That is why those patients have to be on insulin.

In type 2 diabetes, there is a more confusing story. What we currently think happens is that there is a combination of resistance to the insulin that is made, as well as a lack of enough insulin to overcome any resistance the body sees. Over a number of years, patients with type 2 diabetes lose beta cells, but generally do not go down to nothing like type 1 diabetes. The resistance we are speaking of means that insulin is made; it goes to where it is suppose to work. However, instead of resulting in the appropriate biologic result, very little happens. These patients often have to be treated with medications that decrease the body’s insulin resistance or take insulin to overcome the resistance. For both of these forms of the disease, there is no spontaneous cure. You attempt to live with the disease with it controlled. I would suggest you look for additional information about What is Type 1 Diabetes? and Type 2 Diabetes on this web site and All about Diabetes on the American Diabetes Association web site. There you will find more detailed descriptions of these forms of the disease.

JTL