Viruses may cause diabetes

Common viruses that cause vomiting and diarrhea may trigger many cases of diabetes, according to British researchers, who said their findings raise the possibility of a vaccine.

They found evidence of enteroviruses in the insulin-producing pancreatic cells of 60 percent of children with type 1 diabetes and of 40% of adults with type 2 diabetes, BBC News reported.

The study was published in the journal Diabetologia. It's known that genetics play a major role in diabetes risk, but the idea of a viral cause of diabetes has been considered for decades.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. In children with a genetic predisposition to this form of diabetes, enterovirus infection may trigger the immune reaction that results in the disease, the researchers suggested.

Type 2 diabetes is often linked to obesity in adults. Enterovirus infection may harm the ability of beta cells in the pancreas to produce insulin. The researchers said this, in combination with the greater demand for insulin in obese people, may trigger diabetes. – (HealthDay News, March 2009)

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