A new book suggests that the incidence of type 1 diabetes is now increasing at a rate of 3 percent per year, putting it on par with the rise of type 2. That issue put forth in the book, "Diabetes Rising: How A Rare Disease Became A Modern Pandemic, And What To Do About It." by Dan Hurley, raises questions that perhaps everyone with type 1 desires to understand.
What is the cause of type 1?
Mr. Hurley's book states that the incidence of type 1 is now twice as high among children as it was in the 1980s and 10 to 20 times more common than 100 years ago, based on peer-reviewe research he used to write the new book from Kaplan Publishing.
We people with type 1 long have suspected genetics, possibly triggered by infection, environmental exposure or something else that occurs in lthe course of liife. That's to say, the cause remains one big mystery, although I always felt there was a genetic link, considering that my sister, Beth, also has type 1 diabetes.
We both developed it about the time of puberty.
Here are the theories that Mr. Hurley puts forth for your consideration.
1. The "accelerator hypothesis" that asserts that the rising weight and height of children over the past century has has accelerated the tendcy to develop type 1 by putting one's insulin producing beta cells under added stress.
2/ The "sunshine hypothesis" that holds that increased time spent indoors reduced children's exposure to sunlight, reducing levels of vitamin D, and increasing the risk of type 1.
3. The "hygience hypothesis" which holds that lack of exposure to once-prevalent pathogens results in autoimmune hypersensitivity, leading to destruction of the body's insulin-producing beta cells by rogue white blood cells.
4. The "cow's milk hypothesis," which holds that exposure to cow's milk in infnt formula during the first six months of life wreaks havoc on the Immune system and increases the risk of later devellopment of type 1.
5. The "POP hypothesis," which holds that exposure to persistent organic pollutants increases the risk of both types of diabetes.
So what are we to think of these theories. Well, I havle my doubts about a few of them, based on my own childhood. I spent six months a years in the sun, and the onset of my type 1 occurred after a vacation to Virginia Beach in 1966 after being badly sunburned.
I also spent consierable time in public shool and with every snot-nosed friend. I had all the childhood disease, measles and mumps includes. When one friend got sick, we all got sick. So I don't think I lacked exposure to germs. I was not overweight, so I doubt that my size put pressure on my beta cells.
I was allergic to milk as a kid, but my mother put me on soy milk. I also spent considerable time in my father's feedmill for the two summers prior to being diagnosed, which had lots of dust, fertilizers, lime and other things that could have exposed me to enough pollutants to bring on diabetes. But then how does one explain my sister's diagnosis when she never went into the feed mill.
So none of the theories necessary convince me, and I think it might be a combination of a number of things that bring on type 1.
It would be interesting if they did figure out what causes type 1. I still think it had to do with a virus that triggers it in people who already are predisposed or have a genetic tendency to develop it. Still, it is interesting to note that the incidence of diabetes is growing, so perhaps there is some environmental trigger. Let's hope that Mr. Hurley's work ignites more interest and brings about more research on type 1, which often is the forgotten form of diabetes. Type 2 is more common, but I would argue, with plenty of evidence supporting my argument, that type 1 is more difficult to control and something that demands more research.
Of course, I have it, so I think more people should work to understand it and cure it.