College Diabetes

Apparently going to college may put people at risk for a rare form of diabetes. According to a Reuters article by Alison McCook:

People who attend college may be at greater risk of developing a less common form of diabetes associated with autoimmunity, new study findings suggest.

Among more than 56,000 adults living in Norway, those who reached university were nearly twice as likely as adults who did not finish high school to develop autoimmune diabetes – an adult form of the disease similar to the type 1 diabetes that typically manifests in childhood.

In general there are two types of diabetes, Type 1, a juvenile onset condition where the body stops producing insulin (which regulates blood sugar) for largely unknown reasons (most people have about a 0.4 percent chance of developing Type 1 diabetes). Type 2 diabetes (occurs in about 8 percent of the population) is usually adult onset and occurs when the body stops producing insulin efficiently due to obesity or other forms of poor health.

The rare autoimmune diabetes (which occurs in 0.02 percent of the population) is a sort of middle-tier diabetes, Type 1 for adults.

Earlier research suggests that Type 1 diabetes tends to manifest itself in children from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. Type 2 diabetes occurs more commonly in low-income groups.

It’s probably not exposure to college itself that causes autoimmune diabetes so much as it is the social class of people who go (or have gone) to college. According to the article, “results suggest that people who go to university have some other factor in their lives that predisposes them to this type of diabetes.”

That other factor remains a mystery.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer