Is there someone in your family who has been diagnosed with diabetes? Is diabetes hereditary? Is diabetes a trait that can pass from one generation to the next? These are common questions about diabetes, a metabolic disorder. The short answer is yes, diabetes is a genetic disorder, and so if one or both parents have it, you are more at risk. However, a family member with diabetes only increases your risk; it does not necessitate you will definitely have it. There are other risk factors, such as diet, lifestyle, and obesity that are also risk factors.
Diabetes: Blame Your Parents
Understanding what causes diabetes: Metabolism and blood sugar – Diabetes Mellitus (diabetes) is a malfunction of the body’s metabolism. Diabetes causes abnormal levels of blood sugar. When sugar and starchy foods are eaten, they are broken down into glucose.
Glucose is used as energy to fuel the body. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. This hormone plays a vital role in helping cells absorb glucose. If there is an insufficient production of insulin, cells do not absorb glucose properly and blood sugar rises. Blood sugar also increases if cells do not respond to insulin appropriately.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce any insulin. It is usually diagnosed in children and young adults and was once called juvenile diabetes. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body produces less insulin than what is required, or when the insulin doesn’t work appropriately. It is most commonly diagnosed in persons over 40.
Type 2 diabetes, often called non-insulin dependent diabetes, is the most common form of diabetes, affecting 90% – 95% of the 19.7 million Americans with diabetes. Its increased prevalence is linked to growing obesity rates. It is responsible for the diabetes epidemic that is happening in the western world.
Today diabetes is one of the most common conditions. From 1980 through 2009, the number of Americans with diabetes more than tripled (from 5.6 million to 19.7 million). And almost thirty-two percent of the people that have diabetes are not aware of their condition.