Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What Really Causes Diabetes?

If you have been paying attention to the news at all, you know that diabetes is quickly becoming one of the most common ailments in the United States and many parts of Europe. Some have even said that the prevalence is reaching epidemic proportions. Why? What causes diabetes?

First of all, it is important to realize that there are two types of diabetes: Type 1 is congenital and cannot be prevented. Type 2 is not congenital, although there may be a tendency for it to run in families, and it can be prevented. Neither type of diabetes can be cured, but they can both be managed well in most people through medication and lifestyle.

With so many people now being diagnosed with diabetes, you may be wondering if you are at risk. In order to know that, it is important to know what causes diabetes. The two most significant reasons for developing type 2 are inactivity and obesity, but there are other risk factors as well, which include:

A family history of the disease. If a parent or brother or sister has type 2, you have that as a risk factor Hypertension. If you or a close family member such as a parent or sibling has high blood pressure, you are at greater risk for developing diabetes.

Being over age 45. The older you get, the more chance you have of getting diabetes.

Irregular cholesterol levels. Having too much "bad" cholesterol or too little "good" cholesterol increases your risk of diabetes.

Insulin resistance. If your doctor has determined that you are insulin-resistant, that is often seen as a precursor to diabetes. Some doctors even call this "pre-diabetes."

Developing gestational diabetes. It is by definition temporary; that is, it occurs only during pregnancy and goes away after delivery of the baby. But, having gestational diabetes increases the risk of getting type 2 diabetes later on.

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