Narrator: This is Science Today. In recent years, researchers have learned that beta cells in the pancreas, which secrete insulin, die in patients with type 2 diabetes. At the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Feroz Papa says beta cells have already been lost by the time someone is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Papa: It's been underappreciated, really, that a loss of functional beta cell mass is really at the heart of type 2 diabetes. Many patients who are type 2 diabetic are not on insulin.
Narrator: Papa says the American Diabetes Association is now recommending considering the use of insulin earlier in the disease.
Papa: Rather than relying on medications that might cause your pancreas to put out whatever remaining insulin it has. These are sometimes the first-line drugs that doctors put patients on when they first become diagnosed with diabetes — and they work for a while because they replenish your blood insulin stores by forcing your pancreas to put out more insulin, but it can often hasten the death process in the beta cells.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.