Home secretary Theresa May
Home Secretary Theresa May Reuters

UK Home Secretary Theresa May has revealed that she has been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, but insists she will not let it prevent her pursuing her political career.

The condition means that she will have to have insulin injections, twice daily, for the rest of her life.

"The diabetes doesn't affect how I do the job or what I do. It's just part of life... so it's a case of head down and getting on with it," May, 56, told the Mail on Sunday.

May has made her condition known publicly after stories circulated in the Westminster rumour-mill that her two-stone weight loss was part of an image makeover in preparation for ousting Prime Minister David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party.

Bookmakers have made her 4-1 favourite, ahead of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, to succeed Cameron.

But May denied she was preparing a leadership bid, and said of Cameron: "We have a first-class Prime Minister and long may he continue."

She said that she had undertaken a new diet and fitness regime just before being diagnosed, but that the weight loss was mainly caused by the diabetes.

She said: 'It was a real shock and, yes, it took me a while to come to terms with it. It started last November. I'd had a bad cold and cough for quite a few weeks.I went to my GP and she did a blood test which showed I'd got a very high sugar level - that's what revealed the diabetes.

"The symptoms are tiredness, drinking a lot of water, losing weight, but it's difficult to isolate things. I was drinking a lot of water. But I do anyway. There was weight loss but then I was already making an effort to be careful about diet and to get my gym sessions in."

She said doctors initially believed she had Type 2 diabetes, which can be controlled through diet and pills, but later diagnosed her with the more serious Type 1, which is when the body stops producing insulin.

She said: "It doesn't and will not affect my ability to do my work. I'm a little more careful about what I eat and there's obviously the injections, but this is something millions of people have. I'm OK with needles, fortunately.

"There's a great quote from Steve Redgrave, who was diagnosed with diabetes before he won his last Olympic gold medal. He said diabetes must learn to live with me rather than me live with diabetes. That's the attitude."