Insulin resistance refers to the inability of the body
tissues to respond properly to
insulin. Insulin lets sugar (glucose) enter body
cells, where it is used for energy. Insulin also helps muscles, fat, and liver
cells store sugar to be released when it is needed. If the body tissues do not
respond properly to insulin, the blood sugar level rises.
resistance causes the
pancreas to release too much insulin
(hyperinsulinemia). It may also cause the
liver to release too much sugar into the blood.
Several things may increase insulin resistance, including:
- Family history. Insulin resistance may
run in families.
- Being overweight. The more a person weighs, the
more insulin his or her pancreas makes and the less the person's body cells
respond to insulin. People who are overweight mostly in the upper body have
greater insulin resistance and have the greatest risk for type 2
- Lack of exercise. People who get little or no exercise
often have much greater insulin resistance than people who exercise on a
- Age. Teens and older adults usually have greater
insulin resistance. Teens have greater insulin resistance because of growth
- Pregnancy. In the last 3 to 4 months of pregnancy (third
trimester), insulin resistance is increased. A woman who did not have diabetes
before pregnancy can develop a type called
- Some medicines such glucocorticoids (for example, prednisone) can reduce the body's response to insulin.
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Alan C. Dalkin, MD - Endocrinology
November 3, 2011
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