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Diabetes May Soon Be Classified Into 5 Types

Diabetes obesity health type 2 type 1

New research has shown that there are more subgroups of diabetes than just type 1 and type 2 and that more specialized treatment can be attained by breaking the disease into 5 types. Reclassifying diabetes into 5 types allows doctors to give their patients more precise treatment for the disease.


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Diabetes -- More Than Two Types

Today, diabetes is currently classified into two main groups -- type 1 and type 2 diabetes, with type 2 diabetes being more diverse. However, researchers in Sweden and Finland believe they have uncovered and in some ways simplified, the classification of diabetes into 5 types, instead of two.

But researchers believe a refined classification could provide a powerful tool to individualize treatment and better identify individuals with increased risk of complications at diagnosis.

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More and More People Diagnosed With Diabetes In The U.S.

According to the 2017 Diabetes Statistic Report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) there are 30.3 million people with diabetes (9.4% of the US population) including 23.1 million people who are diagnosed and 7.2 million people (23.8%) undiagnosed. The numbers for prediabetes indicate that 84.1 million adults (33.9% of the adult U.S. population) have prediabetes, including 23.1 million adults aged 65 years or older (the age group with highest rate). The estimated percentage of individuals with type 1 diabetes remains at 5% among those with diabetes.

Currently There's Only Type 1 and Type 2

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Type 1 diabetes is viral, and affects 1.25 million American children and adults. It attacks the pancreas so there is not enough of the insulin to control blood sugar levels.

Type 2 diabetes is a diet-related disease that begins in the liver, ultimately maxing out the pancreas, and is chiefly caused by a high fat, high animal product diet, since body fat can affect how insulin works.

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Study Aims At Diversement

The study, done by Lund University Diabetes Center, looked at 14,775 patients including a detailed analysis of their blood.

The results, published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, showed that diabetic patients could be separated into five distinct types instead of two.

  • Type 1 - severe autoimmune diabetes will typically remain the same as the classic type 1 diabetes, that hits young, seemingly healthy people leaving them unable to produce insulin.
  • Type 2 – severe induced insulin-deficient diabetes patients initially looked very similar to those in type 1 – onset occurred when they were young, at a healthy weight and struggled to make insulin, but the disease was diet-related.
  • Type 3 - severe insulin-resistant diabetes patients were overweight and making insulin, but their body was no longer responding to it.
  • Type 4 - mild obesity-related diabetes was mainly seen in people who were very overweight but metabolically much closer to normal than those with type 3 diabetes.
  • Type 5 - mild age-related diabetes patients developed symptoms when they were significantly older than in other groups and their disease tended to be milder.
  • More: Research Finally Confirms That Certain Fruits Do Not Raise Blood Sugar In Diabetics And Even Prevents Diabetes

More Types, More Precise Treatment

Diversing diabetes into 5 subtypes verses two might eventually help to tailor and target early treatment to patients who would benefit most, thereby representing a first step towards precision medicine in diabetes, according to the study.