One thing I hear occasionally among type 1 diabetics is, “Well, at least I can’t get type 2 diabetes!” This reasoning makes sense if you think only about the two diabetes as two points along a single spectrum, with type 2 diabetes being a metabolic disease that is “the less severe” type 1 diabetes.
I felt compelled to answer: Yes, yes you can. You absolutely can. Yes you can have type 1 and type 2 diabetes at the same time. You’re unlikely to get diagnosed with type 2 diabetes if you already have type 1, because it’s hard to measure the difference in blood sugar values, but you can still suffer from both types of diabetes simultaneously.
Consider: type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder characterized by the T cell mediated destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells. In other words, no beta cells.
Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by insulin resistance in many of the cells in the body, and can progress to stress-induced (we think) death of the beta cells.
So, if your beta cells are already gone as a result of type 1 diabetes, they can’t die again because of type 2. But you can definitely become insulin resistant, due to obesity, genetic predisposition, and/or hyperinsulinemia.
As if type 1 diabetes weren’t hard enough– consider doing it while your body is insulin resistant as well. Ugh. Don’t do it, people– watch your weight, stay active, eat well. Avoid type 2 diabetes, especially if you’re a type 1 diabetic.
I am thinking about all of this in the wake of having watched the HBO miniseries/documentary, The Weight of the Nation. I highly recommend it– it was made in conjunction with the NIH, and hits a nice balance of being understandable and compelling, and being scientifically based. Plus, Francis Collins makes several appearances. I love that guy. It’s free, with four core episodes and a number of vignettes that go slightly deeper into detail, so check it out: http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com
Because, really, diabetes sucks, so let’s do what we can to avoid it when we can.