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How Do My Blood Sugars Affect My Risk?

Causes of Diabetes

Contrary to popular belief, eating too much sugar does not lead to diabetes. Everyone can benefit from cutting back on sugar, but the cause of diabetes is much more complicated than that: It’s a group of diseases with a range of causes.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes, the most severe type, is often first diagnosed in children and young adults. It is caused by a faulty immune response in which the immune system attacks part of its own pancreas. 

The cause is unknown. The immune system treats the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as invaders, attacking and destroying them, which makes type 1 diabetes an autoimmune disease.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, the most common form, tends to occur after age 35, but more and more young people are developing the condition. With type 2 diabetes, the body still produces some of its own insulin, but it’s not enough. Abnormal insulin receptor cells in the body fail to respond to insulin and therefore glucose is unable to enter the cells. This is known as insulin resistance.


There may be no signs or symptoms with the onset of type 2 diabetes. However, possible symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Unusual thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Weight change (unexpected weight gain or loss)
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Blurry vision
  • More frequent infections
  • Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
  • Tingling and/or numbness in hands or feet
  • Erectile difficulties

Talk with your doctor right away if you are experiencing any symptoms you believe could be associated with diabetes.

Associated Risks

Having diabetes can lead to other health problems, especially if your condition is not properly managed or treated. These include the following:

Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and Stroke

  • CVD and stroke occur three to five times more often in people with diabetes.
  • 80% of all people with diabetes will die of either CVD or stroke.

Eye Problems

  • Cataracts and glaucoma occur more frequently in people with diabetes.
  • Diabetes threatens vision by damaging the retina.
  • It is the number one cause of blindness in Canadians.

Kidney Problems

Kidney disease is a serious and likely complication in people with long-term diabetes.

Nerve Damage

  • Nerve damage is a result of prolonged high blood glucose levels.
  • The primary sign of nerve damage is a tingling, numbing, or burning feeling in the hands, feet, arms, or legs. Amputation or loss of a limb may result.


Approximately 25% of people with diabetes will experience depression.