Diabetes is a group of metabolic conditions in which the body either doesn’t produce enough of the hormone insulin or the body has become resistant to the effects of insulin (insulin resistance). Insulin is a hormone produced by the Beta islet cells in the pancreas, and it converts sugar, starches and other foods into energy. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system destroys the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. Thus, the pancreas cannot produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes is typically diagnosed in children and young adults . In Type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and/or gradually loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas. Glucose accumulates and cause damage to vascular and other tissues . Type 2 diabetes represents 85-90% of all diabetes cases and usually develops in adults over 45 years, though increasingly it is occurring in younger people including children .
Diabetes affects the large blood vessels leading to cardiovascular disease, including hypertension, atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke and circulation problems in the lower limbs (peripheral arterial disease). It also affects the microvasculature of the body leading to problems in the eyes, kidneys, feet and nerves. Nerve problems include peripheral neuropathy and autonomic neuropathy. It also affects other parts of the body including skin, teeth and gums .
According to the World Health Organization, the number of people worldwide with diabetes has increased from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014, with the global prevalence of diabetes among adults over 18 years of age having risen from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014. Nearly half of all deaths due to high blood glucose occur before 70b years of age. It is estimated that diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in 2016 .
In 2015 the prevalence of diabetes in adults in the US was 30.3 million or 9.4% of the population. Of the 30.3 million adults with diabetes, 23.1 million were diagnosed and 7.2 million undiagnosed. In addition, in 2015 there were 84.1 million persons in the US aged 18 or older with prediabetes. In 2017 the estimated cost of diabetes in the US was $327 billion .
In Australia, the prevalence of diabetes is around 1.7 million (includes all types of diabetes including undiagnosed type 2 diabetes). In 2015, it was estimated that more than 100,000 Australians developed diabetes in the previous year. The total annual cost of diabetes in Australia is estimated at $14.6 billion .
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 Diabetes Australia. Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Australia 2015. Available at: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/type-2-diabetes [accessed 19 March 2019]
 Diabetes Australia. Diabetes-related complications. Diabetes Australia 2016. Available at: https://static.diabetesaustralia.com.au/s/fileassets/diabetes-australia/e19de40c-52db-4e2c-ab78-d78317fb9d8e.pdf [accessed 18 March 2019]
 World Health Organization. Diabetes. Key Facts. 2018. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/diabetes
 American Diabetes Association. Statistics About Diabetes. 2018. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/ [access 30 March 2019]
Research Papers on the endocannabinoid system, cannabis, cannabinoids and diabetes
(2012) The endocannabinoid system and plant-derived cannabinoids in diabetes and diabetic complications. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3349875/
(2012) Decreased prevalence of diabetes in marijuana users: cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) III https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3289985/
(2013) The impact of marijuana use on glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance amongst US adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23684393
(2015) Role of the endocannabinoid system in diabetes and diabetic complications. https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bph.13226
(2016) Experimental cannabidiol treatment reduces early pancreatic inflammation in type 1 diabetes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27767974
(2018) The relationship between cannabis use and diabetes: Results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions III. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/dar.12867