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Type 2 Diabetes Risk Factors

What Risk Factors Do You Have?

Type 2 diabetes has many risk factors associated with it, mostly related to lifestyle choices. Type 2 diabetes develops when glucose—which our bodies need for energy—stays in the blood and can’t get into the cells. This occurs when the pancreas either doesn’t make enough insulin or the body doesn’t use the insulin as it should, leading to insulin resistance. 
About Insulin Resistance
Insulin resistance means your body cannot use the insulin your body makes. Your body may produce sufficient amounts of insulin to transport glucose to the cells, but the body resists the insulin. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood and causes symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes. 

Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
But in order to develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, you must also have a genetic abnormality. Along the same lines, some people with type 2 don’t produce enough insulin; that is also due to a genetic abnormality.

That is, not everyone can develop type 2 diabetes. Additionally, not everyone with a genetic abnormality will develop type 2 diabetes; these risk factors and lifestyle choices influence the development.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:

  • Family history: Type 2 diabetes has a hereditary factor. If someone in your close family has (or had) it, you are more likely to develop it.
  • Race/ethnicity: Certain ethnic groups are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, including African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Asian Americans.

It’s interesting to point out that as certain countries have become more Westernized and their lifestyle choices—particularly their food choices—have become more “American,” the incidence of type 2 diabetes has gone up. For instance, China used to have a low rate of type 2 diabetes. As the country has become more industrialized—more people working in offices and fewer people working in the fields—and as their diet has shifted, the incidence of type 2 has increased.

Many Americans’ lifestyles are conducive to developing type 2 diabetes—less physical activity, consuming more calories. larger portions than necessary, and being overweight (BMI greater than 25). It seems that certain non-white (not Caucasians) groups of people are susceptible to type 2, but that risk is especially heightened if they live in America.

  • Age: The older you are, the more at risk you are for developing type 2 diabetes. At age 45, your risk starts to rise, and after age 65, your risk increases exponentially.
  • Gestational diabetes: If you developed diabetes while you were pregnant, that increases your risk for developing type 2 diabetes later on.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS): Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) also raises the risk for type 2 diabetes because it’s related to insulin resistance. In PCOS, many cysts form in your ovaries, and one possible cause is insulin resistance. If you have PCOS, that means you may be insulin resistant and therefore at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
As discussed in the causes of type 2 diabetes article, lifestyle choices do play a major role in the development of type 2 diabetes. Being overweight, not eating well, and not being physically fit can also be considered risk factors for type 2.


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