Coronavirus could trigger diabetes in previously healthy people

(MENAFN – The Conversation) Recent studies from England and other countries have suggested that adults with both types 1 and 2 diabetes have an increased risk of death if they catch COVID-19, especially if they have poor glucose control. The weight of evidence is building up to support this theory. And when the dust settles, a more critical analysis of the data will probably confirm this increased risk.

But in early June, several well respected academics from around the world wrote a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) suggesting that COVID-19 is not just a risk for people with diabetes – it may actually cause diabetes.

There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1, caused by the body’s own immune system attacking the islet cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a so-called autoimmune disease. Eventually, there are no islets left and hence no insulin can be made to control blood glucose levels. We don’t know what starts this autoimmunity, but viral infections have been suggested as a possible trigger.

Type 2 diabetes happens when the islet cells have to produce vast amounts of insulin because the main target organs (liver, muscle, fat) do not respond as well as they should to insulin’s message. Finally, the islet cells become exhausted and die.

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