Five Types of Diabetes? The Answer Might Be Yes

One of the most common facts regarding diabetes is that most diabetics develop one of two forms of this disease, appropriately known as type 1 and type 2 diabetes. But what if these two groupings weren’t sufficient to fully cover the scope of diabetes? Believe it or not, that might very well be the case.

Searching for Better Options

Diabetics would be better served if diabetes was categorized into five types instead of two. This was the conclusion of a Swedish/ Finnish team of researchers, who studied thousands of adult diabetics living in Scandinavia.
Specifically, the authors contend that type 1 and 2 diabetes should be divided into five separate classifications. The reason for this attention-getting proposition? The research team notes that the blood sugar increases that characterize diabetes can be caused by multiple factors. Given this fact, recategorizing type 1 and 2 diabetes into a larger group of conditions could allow for better diabetes treatments. Specifically, doctors could theoretically
customize a patient’s care based on potential complications.

Diabetes Clusters

For their report, the researchers relied upon data collected from four previous studies. As a result, they had access to health-related data for
nearly 15,000 Swedes and Finns. The information analyzed by the authors included hemoglobin A1C levels, insulin resistance, body mass index, diabetes progression, complications related to diabetes and treatment methods. After analyzing this large group of individuals, the authors proposed reorganizing diabetes diagnoses into five distinct “clusters,” which are further detailed below:

Cluster 1: Cluster 1 would take the place of type 1 diabetes, which occurs when the body cannot produce insulin due to an overzealous immune system. This condition would be used to describe those with severe autoimmune diabetes.

Cluster 2: Similar to Cluster 1, Cluster 2 diabetes would be assigned to diabetics with a severe lack of insulin. Rather than being caused by a faulty immune system, this proposed condition is related to poor metabolic control.

Cluster 3: This group would be characterized by a number of factors. Specifically, Cluster 3 diabetes would be assigned to overweight adults whose bodies do not respond to the insulin in their bloodstreams. Another key feature in this category would be an elevated risk of kidney disease.

Cluster 4: Cluster 4 would be used for diabetics who develop a mild, weight-related form of diabetes.

Cluster 5: As with Cluster 4, Cluster 5 diabetes would be relatively mild condition. This was the most common type of diabetes found amongst the
study’s participants. Those affected by Cluster 5 diabetes tended to be older adults. The Swedish/Finnish team’s work was warmly received by academic diabetes researchers. For example, Edwin Gale, professor emeritus of diabetes at the University of Bristol, stated that “the message not to apply one-size-fits-all rules is welcome and overdue.” The journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology published this team’s work in early 2018.

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