Type 1 diabetes is partly inherited, with multiple genes, including certain HLA genotypes, known to influence the risk of diabetes. In genetically susceptible people, the onset of diabetes can be triggered by one or more environmental factors, such as a viral infection or diet. Several viruses have been implicated, but to date there is no stringent evidence to support this hypothesis in humans. Among dietary factors, data suggest that gliadin (a protein present in gluten) may play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes, but the mechanism is not fully understood.
Type 2 DM is primarily due to lifestyle factors and genetics. A number of lifestyle factors are known to be important to the development of type 2 DM, including obesity (defined by a body mass index of greater than 30), lack of physical activity, poor diet, stress, and urbanization. Excess body fat is associated with 30% of cases in those of Chinese and Japanese descent, 60–80% of cases in those of European and African descent, and 100% of Pima Indians and Pacific Islanders. Even those who are not obese often have a high waist–hip ratio.
Instead of referring patients to outside specialists, internists and general practitioners can continue to helm their patients’ diabetic care through Diabetes Relief with referrals to a nearby center. The patient’s doctor and the team at Diabetes Relief work together to get the patient on the road to recovery—not just to a plateau of keeping symptoms in check. Or, doctors can expand their scope of practice and own an in-house, turnkey Diabetes Healthcare Center. This helps their patients avoid the suffering and expense of dialysis or amputations through the proven therapies of Diabetes Relief.
I went to one interactive session on masculinity, and I was asked to do eye gazing for several minutes with another man while answering prompts like “Something I’m afraid to tell you is” and “Something I love about myself is.” It is meant to teach men to be expressive, and to see that it can feel normal and good. The only strange thing for me was the uninterrupted eye contact at abnormally close range, about a foot. The women in the session watched us do the exercise and shared their reactions afterward, and many seemed genuinely moved because they hadn’t seen men talk to each other like this before.
Diabetes can also result from other hormonal disturbances, such as excessive growth hormone production (acromegaly) and Cushing's syndrome. In acromegaly, a pituitary gland tumor at the base of the brain causes excessive production of growth hormone, leading to hyperglycemia. In Cushing's syndrome, the adrenal glands produce an excess of cortisol, which promotes blood sugar elevation.
Low blood pressure on standing (orthostatic hypotension). Treatment starts with simple lifestyle changes, such as avoiding alcohol, drinking plenty of water, and sitting or standing slowly. Sleeping with the head of the bed raised 6 to 10 inches helps prevent swings in blood pressure. Your doctor may also recommend compression stockings and similar compression support for your abdomen (abdominal binder). Several medications, either alone or together, may be used to treat orthostatic hypotension.
The fact these improvements can happen independently of weight loss should also signify a shift in how we conceptualize both obesity and diabetes, according to Peter Billings, the Seattle bariatric surgeon who operated on Benari. Billings, a nearly 20-year veteran in the field, has started to perform surgery on other lower-BMI patients similar to Benari, though they often pay out of pocket.