Ask the Doctor
August 23, 2011
How can I have diabetes with no family history?

Dear Doc,

This has not been a good year for me. I have been diagnosed with diabetes out of the blue, with no family history of diabetes and I have always been in good shape, but smoke and drink alcohol. The latest is that my eyes are slightly yellow. I was reviewed by my physician who alluded that the weight loss could be from the Metformin?{{more}}


Dear Freddie,

There can be many things to consider with someone with a history like yours. It is therefore important to exclude some of the obvious reasons and your doctor would have done that already. Maybe all these are linked to a common factor.

A diagnosis that must be considered is that of a pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancers have a strong link to alcohol consumption and smoking and both of these you have in your history.

It is important to note that you were diagnosed with diabetes without a family history of it and that you were in good shape. These are important factors to ponder on, because the pancreas is the organ that produces insulin. Persons can develop tumours of the pancreas that interrupt the production of insulin and therefore cause diabetes.

The yellow colour of your eyes can be a feature of obstruction of the flow of the products from the liver, because of growth of a tumour in the head of the pancreas. Signs like the yellowing of the eyes and loss of weight takes place over a period of time and, at times, it is difficult to be aware of them until there is significant change. Many persons with pancreatic cancer experience abdominal pain in the region of the stomach and the middle of the back. When they lean forward it reduces the pain. These symptoms can be misdiagnosed as stomach ulcers.

It takes high suspicion and early investigation by your doctor to diagnose pancreatic cancer early. It is also of significance that we be aware of the link to heavy alcohol consumption and smoking. Pancreatic cancer is a relatively rare cancer, but has a lifestyle link to it that can be adjusted.


SVG Cancer Society,

P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 526-7036