Overview

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus has become an epidemic in the United States with about 1 million people over age 20 diagnosed with the condition each year. About 17 million people, or 6 percent of the U.S. population, have diabetes mellitus, a disease in which the body doesn't produce or properly use insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas that converts sugar into energy.

Diabetes, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, can cause serious health complications such as blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage and the need for lower-extremity amputations. In addition, diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, dramatically increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke.

Types of Diabetes

There are three main types of diabetes:

Type 1 Diabetes: About 5 to 10 percent of those with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. It's an autoimmune disease, meaning the body's own immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Patients with type 1 diabetes have very little or no insulin, and must take insulin everyday. Although the condition can appear at any age, typically it's diagnosed in children and young adults, which is why it was previously called juvenile diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes: Accounting for 90 to 95 percent of those with diabetes, type 2 is the most common form. Usually, it's diagnosed in adults over age 40 and 80 percent of those with type 2 diabetes are overweight. Because of the increase in obesity, type 2 diabetes is being diagnosed at younger ages, including in children. Initially in type 2 diabetes, insulin is produced, but the insulin doesn't function properly, leading to a condition called insulin resistance. Eventually, most people with type 2 diabetes suffer from decreased insulin production.

Gestational Diabetes: Gestational diabetes develops during pregnancy. It occurs more often in African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and people with a family history of diabetes. Typically, it disappears after delivery, although the condition is associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes later in life.

Our Approach to Diabetes Mellitus

UCSF offers comprehensive diabetes care founded on our cutting-edge research program. As a federally recognized diabetes research center, we strive to quickly translate laboratory discoveries into improved treatments and even cures. We are one of the few medical centers in the nation that can perform islet transplants for type 1 diabetes, providing a temporary cure that allows many recipients to live diabetes free for the first time in their lives. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UCSF Medical Center among the top five hospitals in the country for diabetes care.

We complement medical care with a variety of classes and workshops covering topics such as healthful cooking and exercise, as well as a support network for people living with diabetes. Our mission is to empower patients with the tools and information they need to lead full, healthy lives.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Best hospital in Northern California

  • usnews-diabetes-and-endocrinology

    Best on the West Coast for diabetes and endocrinology

  • n6-2x

    Ranked No. 3 in the nation for diabetes and endocrinology

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.

Share