(New Scientist) The flu virus has another trick up its sleeve – it may trigger diabetes. The good news is that this discovery may give us a way to prevent some forms of the disease.
In diabetes, cells do not take up sugar from the blood. This can happen because cells have lost sensitivity to the hormone insulin, leading to what is called type 2 diabetes. Linked to diet and lifestyle, this form of the disease is rapidly becoming more common worldwide. Another cause of diabetes happens when the immune system destroys the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. People inherit a genetic predisposition for this condition, called type 1 diabetes, but an environmental trigger is also needed for it to appear.
Since the 1970s, researchers have suspected that viruses may provide this trigger, as type 1 diabetes often sets in suddenly after an infection.
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