Pancreatitis versus Diabetes

Pancreatitis versus Diabetes

Inflammation of the pancreas is the primary cause of pancreatitis. Diabetes is associated with high blood sugar, and may be caused either by an auto-immune disorder in which the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, or just a limited ability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin. Acute pancreatitis may inhibit the ability to produce insulin, but elevated amylase and lipase (pancreatic enzymes) are the primary manifestations. Having a history of gallstones or heavy drinking predisposes to developing pancreatitis-as well as having Type 2 diabetes.

Alcohol and Pancreatic Attacks

Alcohol abuse is a common cause of pancreatitis (according to an article by Pandol et al in Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research [35(5):830-837; 2011]). The rate of pancreatitis in alcoholics has been revealed on autopsy as 75 percent. Heavy drinking not only stresses the pancreas, but may also contribute to inception of diabetes. Pain in the upper abdomen is one of the symptoms of pancreatitis (and having an attack is linked to susceptibility to future episodes of pancreatitis).

Gall Bladder Disease and Pancreatitis

One function of the gall bladder is to store bile for use by the small intestine to digest fats. Gallstone formation-termed cholelithiasis-occurs for a variety of reasons including an overload of cholesterol. Approximately 70 percent of all gallstones are formed from cholesterol. Experiencing multiple attacks of gallstones predisposes to pancreatitis, but the reason is not clearly understood. Eating a diet high in both saturated fats and sugar may be a contributory factor. Since foods high in fats and sugar are "calorie-rich", obesity is a related risk factor.

Obesity and Diabetes

The likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes in tremendously increased in persons who are obese. According to theU.S. National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC), 80 percent of all people with diabetes (Type 2) are obese. Losing weight can prevent the development of diabetes in obese individuals-especially teenagers. African American adolescents considered obese are at particular risk of developing diabetes in adulthood. Nearly 15 percent of African Americans over age 20 have diabetes according to the National Institutes of Health.

Pancreatic Cancer and Diabetes

Chronic pancreatitis has been linked to an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer. People diagnosed with pancreatic cancer are at a high risk of developing diabetes. The diet needs to be carefully controlled in individuals with pancreatic cancer to promote health for as long as possible.

The pancreas is the main organ associated with diabetes. However, most organ systems are affected by the strain of diabetes. For this reason, prevention is the best strategy.