Dr. Didier Hober, a professor of virology at University Lille in France and author of an accompanying journal editorial, said "the increased incidence rate of type 1 diabetes can be explained by a role of environmental factors, especially enteroviruses, like coxsackievirus B."
However, it is unclear whether enteroviruses are involved in all patients or just some, he added. "Enteroviruses could act as inducers of the disease or as accelerators of the progression of the disease. A persistent infection or consecutive infections could play a role," he said.
"The relationship between enteroviruses and type 1 diabetes opens up the possibility of developing new preventive and therapeutic strategies to fight the disease," Hober said.
Another expert, Dr. Joel Zonszein, a professor of clinical medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said for 40 to 50 years it has been proposed that these viruses may trigger type 1 diabetes.
"There is an association," he said. "It doesn't show a cause-and-effect; it shows an association. Maybe patients with type 1 diabetes are more susceptible to get these enteroviruses."
"It's a good reminder that we don't know the causes of type 1 diabetes," he added.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body cannot produce insulin, which is essential in metabolizing sugar. The resulting extra sugar in the blood can cause serious complications, such as heart disease, kidney disease, loss of sight or limbs and an early death. The condition is controlled with doses of insulin and a diet that keep blood sugar levels in normal ranges.
In Type 2 diabetes, which is far more common, the body produces insulin but doesn't utilize it properly. Unlike type 1 diabetes, ty
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