Jewels Doskicz is a registered nurse, freelance writer, patient advocate, health coach, and long-distance cyclist. Jewels is the moderator of Diabetic Connect’s weekly #DCDE Twitter chat, and she and her daughter both live healthfully with type 1 diabetes.
In a twist of events, a small-scale study in Japan found that type 2 diabetes may possibly turn into type 1.
Yes—you heard me right.
At a time when type 2 diabetes, one of the world’s most prolific diseases, is being redefined as an “autoimmune disease” rather than “a purely metabolic disease,” anything may be possible.
If your mind works anything like mine, you may be thinking that perhaps these individuals actually had type 1.5 diabetes to begin with rather than type 2.
What is type 1.5?
Type 1.5 isn’t type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes—it falls somewhere in between and begs for the wrong diagnosis from the get-go (without a thorough healthcare provider in the swivel stool).
Also known as Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (or LADA for short), type 1.5 diabetes actually accounts for 10 percent of people living with diabetes, according to Diabetes Forecast. It’s not always easy to diagnose because of its inherently tricky gray-zone features:
• Slow onset over the course of months to years
• An oral medication may work initially, but typically after six years, insulin is needed
• Positive antibodies
• Age of onset is usually adulthood
• Those affected show signs of insulin resistance
Interestingly enough, this subgrouping was discovered when the ability to test for antibodies became available in the 1970s. People with type 1 diabetes were found to have positive antibodies that launched an attack on their immune system; people with type 2 diabetes did not—except for a small fraction who are now diagnosed with type 1.5 or LADA.
It’s important to note that in this particular study, researchers engaged only six participants—a very small sample from which to glean conclusions.
Nevertheless, this study found that, on average, type 2 diabetes converted to type 1 diabetes “after 7.7 months of insulin administration.” The study in FoodConsumer calls this process “insulin-induced type 1 diabetes.”
It all sounds confusing and makes me feel like I need to turn the windshield wipers on in my brain to understand the ins and outs of it.
This study is hopefully a precursor to a larger and more complex research project which will analyze the patterns they’ve identified to see if they’re applicable to a larger population.
This study does not suggest that we change our diabetes regime to avoid one treatment versus another. For many, like myself, insulin is an amazing, life-altering, and life-saving medication. We’re always discovering more about the medications we take and how they interact with our bodies as they help shape the future of disease management.