What role does the pancreas play in diabetes?

The role of the pancreas in type 1 and type 2 diabetes is clear. In type 1 diabetes:
  • The immune system destroys the pancreas's beta cells, which means the body can no longer produce insulin.
  • This leaves people with type 1 in need of insulin in order to survive.
In type 2 diabetes:
  • The pancreas still produces insulin, but the body doesn't respond to the insulin as it should. This causes insulin resistance.
  • When there is insulin resistance, the beta cells of the pancreas's islets can no longer keep up with the body's demand for insulin and lower blood glucose levels as it should.

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.