Causes of secondary diabetes

By | September 16, 2013
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Common causes of Secondary Diabetes

This is a broad category because it includes a wide range of health problems that damages, injures or cause destruction of the pancreas.

The diabetes is not the main illness; it is, as can be postulated from its name, a secondary condition that results because of the main illness.

If it is possible to treat the main illness successfully, the diabetes may/will disappear.

Generally speaking the conditions are either hormonal, genetic, malignancies or caused by chemicals or drugs.

Top 20 common causes of secondary diabetes are:

1.Chronic pancreatitis

This occurs when digestive enzymes attack and destroy the pancreas.

The main causes of chronic pancreatitis are alcoholism, blocked or narrowed pancreatic duct due to some form of trauma or cyst, and heredity. Occasionally no reason can be found.

2. Hemochromatosis

A genetic disorder that causes the body to absorb excess iron from food.

The excess iron builds up in the cells of the liver, heart, pancreas, and other organs and eventually destroys them.

causes of secondary diabetes

3. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a complex condition that affects the ovaries. The ovarian cysts inhibit the natural female hormones, which eventually leads to insulin resistance.

4. Cushing’s disease

This is a hormonal disorder caused by prolonged exposure of the body’s tissues to high levels of the hormone cortisol spontaneously produced or by excessive use of cortisol or other similar steroid hormones.

The latter may be used to treat life threatening disease such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, some allergies etc.

5. Acromegaly

Rare hormone disorder resulting from over production of growth hormone by the pituitary gland, usually due to a tumor on that gland. It most commonly affects middle-aged adults.

6. Somatostatinoma and Aldosteronoma-induced hypokalaemia.

Rare conditions caused by pancreatic tumours that can cause diabetes, at least in part by inhibiting insulin secretion. Successful removal of the tumor can cause the diabetes to disappear.

7. Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease. CF causes the incapacitation of the pancreas by fibrosis and can lead to type 2 diabetes.

8. Adenocarcinomas

Cancer that begins in cells that line the inside of organs. Almost all pancreatic cancers are of this type.

9. The stiff-man syndrome

An autoimmune disorder of the central nervous system characterized by stiffness of the axial muscles (the skeletal muscles of the head and trunk) with painful spasms.

Patients usually have Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase (GAD) antibodies and many develop Type 1 diabetes.

10.Wolfram’s syndrome

A rare autosomal recessive disorder (due to a mutated gene) characterized by diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, optic atrophy (eye problems), and deafness.

causes of secondary diabetes

11.Rabson-Mendenhall syndrome

An extremely rare pediatric genetic disorder caused by a mutation in the insulin receptor gene. It results in severe insulin resistance.

Initial symptoms include abnormalities of the head, face, teeth and nails. Also Acanthosis nigricans, a skin disorder where the skin becomes dark in color and velvety in texture, especially in the folds of the neck, groin and underarms


A rare pediatric genetic disorder that is associated with extreme insulin resistance. It leads to mental and physical retardation, coarse features, Acanthosis nigricans and early death.


A rare tumor found in the adrenal glands. It causes an excess of adrenaline to be produced. The diabetes associated with this will go away once the tumor has been removed.


A rare pancreatic tumor. Malignant glucagonomas are islet cell pancreatic tumors. Insulin can be over produced, leading to diabetes.


Certain toxins, like Vacor (a rat poison), can permanently destroy pancreatic beta cells, leaving one with a Type 1 diabetes.


Certain viral infections have resulted in the destruction of beta cells. Examples are congenital rubella, cytomegalovirus, and adenovirus and mumps.

17.Drugs(chemically induced diabetes)

Pentamidine (treats some forms of pneumonia and parasitic infections)

Nicotinic acid

Glucocorticoids (used as anti-inflammatories)

Thyroid hormone

Alpha-blockers (used to treat blood-pressure)

Beta-blockers (used to treat blood-pressure)

Thiazides (used in blood-pressure control)

Furosemide (a diuretic, used in blood pressure control)

Dilantin (a drug used to treat epilepsy)

Estrogen-containing products (such as oral contraceptives and hormone replacement theraphy)

Interferon-alpha theraphy (patients can develop diabetes associated with islet cell auto-antibodies, and, in certain instances, severe insulin deficiency)

18.Insulin-receptor disorders

Anti-insulin receptor antibodies are occasionally found in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus and other autoimmune disease. They bind to the insulin receptor and so reducing the binding of insulin.

19.Insulin autoimmune Syndrome

The person has antibodies against insulin. This rare disease was first reported in 1970 and of the 200 cases so far, 90% come from Japan.

20.Diseases of the pancreas such as

Fibrocalculous pancreatopathy


Trauma / pancreatectomy



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