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Can You Catch Diabetes?

Question of the Week

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Updated June 14, 2006

Q. I have a question about Diabetes... Is it possible to contract diabetes from a person who has diabetes? Is it contagious in any way? Is it at all possible to contract diabetes from blood, salivia, semen, sperm or any other body fluid? If you could provide me with an answer, I'd greatly appreciate it. Catherine, Annapolis, MD

A. No, diabetes is not contagious.

So how do you get diabetes?

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, diabetes 'is a disorder of metabolism' in which 'glucose builds up in the blood, overflows into the urine, and passes out of the body. Thus, the body loses its main source of fuel even though the blood contains large amounts of glucose.'

For children with Type I diabetes, their body's immune system turns against the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, so that it can't make insulin, which the body needs to move glucose from blood into their cells. It isn't known what triggers this immune system reaction though. It may be due to 'autoimmune, genetic, and environmental factors, possibly viruses.'

Keep in mind that just because Type I diabetes may be triggered by a virus doesn't mean that it is contagious.

Type II diabetes also isn't contagious, but experts don't know what causes it either. Risk factors do include being overweight, inactive, and having close family members with Type II diabetes.

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