How do I get diabetes? Is diabetes genetic? Both strive from the same thinking. Many of us have family members and close relatives that have been diagnosed with diabetes. This makes us wonder, how likely are my children and I to get diabetes. Let’s try to answer this question. Is diabetes genetic?
According to the American Diabetes Association, ADA, “diabetes does not seem to be inherited in a simple pattern. Yet clearly, some people are born more likely to develop diabetes than others” (ADA, 2017). Type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes have several differences in how they develop. However, they both have something in common.
“You inherit a predisposition to the disease” (ADA, 2017). This predisposition is set off by a factor inside of your environment. Genes are not the deciding factor. Just like in psychology, it is not nature or nurture. But, it is both of them combined.
Diabetes is not entirely caused by genetics. This is obvious when looking at identical twins. The ADA states: “When one twin has type 1 diabetes, the other gets the disease at most only half the time. When one twin has type 2 diabetes, the other’s risk is at most 3 in 4” (ADA, 2017).
This shows that there is some genetic relationship. However, a person’s environment also has a huge impact that should not be ignored.
It is well known that white people are more likely to have type 1 diabetes than minorities. However, people from African, Pacific Islander, Native American, and other groups are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
So, how does one get diabetes then? If it is not completely genetic, what are other factors that affect it?
One of the biggest factors is excess body fat. With too much blood sugar going through the body, it makes it difficult for the pancreas to keep up with converting glucose into energy.
If a person is not staying physically active, it will make it extremely difficult to burn that energy. Therefore, high blood glucose levels can cause the pancreas to stop making insulin. This is what causes type 2 diabetes.
Obesity, eating an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and a few other factors are involved in the development of diabetes. There are over 86 million Americans that have prediabetes.
Someone with prediabetes has high blood sugar. However, they have not fully developed type 2 diabetes.
It is no wonder why so many people are asking this question. There is fear for their children and fear for themselves.
What should you do if your family has a history of diabetes? Since there is evidence of a genetic factor, living a lifestyle that lowers the risk is extremely important.
Getting 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week and eating healthier will help a lot. Making healthy lifestyle choices will put you steps ahead in fighting this disease.
Taking the time to talk to your doctor will help you understand a lot of what is going on. Keeping track of your family history will help you discover if you have a predisposition to develop diabetes. If both parents have diabetes, the child has a 50% chance of developing the disease as well.
American Diabetes Association (2017). Genetics of diabetes. American Diabetes Association. Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/genetics-of-diabetes.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/