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The rise in type I diabetes: A look at the theories behind the increase

Posted on: July 16, 2013   by  Brant Cebulla


Type I diabetes has been on the rise since the middle of the 20th century. From 1990 to 1999, the incidence increased by 3% per year.

Unlike type II diabetes (T2D), which is a relative insulin deficiency (where the body can’t keep up with the body’s demands), type I diabetes (T1D) is an absolute insulin deficiency, where the body can’t produce enough insulin because of autoimmune destruction of beta cells which produce insulin.

T1D is an autoimmune disease, and like most autoimmune diseases, researchers are still scrambling to figure out what’s going on in T1D and how to prevent it. This is once again in contrast to T2D, where there are known modifiable lifestyle risk factors, like eating habits and how active you are.

While many here know that there is some research on the link between vitamin D and T1D, and some researchers think vitamin D deficiency may contribute to the rise in incidence of T1D, there are actually a few different hypotheses why there is a rise in T1D incidence. In a recent review, Dr Francesco Egro took a look at all the hypotheses.

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5 Responses to The rise in type I diabetes: A look at the theories behind the increase

  1. [email protected]

    An important point in the Finnish study is that the babies given 2000 units of vitamin D had an 80% less chance of type I diabetes over the next 3 decades. And yet I have never seen diabetes organizations spread the word on this study.

  2. Rita and Misty

    In a perfect world, it would be great if the VDC had resources to partner up with various other health organizations, and perhaps run a monthly article on webpages or newsletters of such organizations…or a Q&A type of thing… The benefit would (at least) be 2-fold (in my mind’s eye):

    1. The readers of such sites would learn about the benefit of D with respect to their particular disease.
    2. The readers would subsequently be directed to the Vitamin D Council website, where they would then learn about the benefits of vitamin D for various conditions other than their particular illness.

    Those that I have brought here to the VDC site to learn have informed me that it is wonderful to have such a trustworthy site. That is a huge compliment to the Vitamin D Council…to John Cannell, to the Board, and to Brant and to Kate.

    This is why I continue to volunteer for the VDC. And, it is also why I choose to place my name and contact information on an open website. For me, it is an honor to be associated with such an impeccable organization.

  3. allometric24

    I have a cousin whose husband has MS. They have a son who developed type 1 diabetes in his late twenties. Makes me wonder if there is an underlying genetic factor. They live around 54 north.

    • Brant Cebulla

      allometric24, there are some observational studies that have found a relationship between T1D and MS. First degree relatives of people with MS have an increased risk of T1D and MS. And first degree relatives of people with T1D also have an increased risk of T1D and MS.

      I think the model proposed in the cited article fits your cousin’s story well. Genetic susceptibility plus some environmental exposures, like living at 54 degrees north, can lead to autoimmune diseases like T1D and MS.


  4. Rita and Misty

    There is also a connection between T1D and Lupus:


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