Genetics, distance from the equator and age group have all been proven to play a role in type 1 diabetes. However, type 2 diabetes is far more common, and it is linked to slightly different risk factors. Here are the major things that make you more likely to develop diabetes and information about how you may be able to combat some of the controllable risk factors. It is important to be aware of both controllable and uncontrollable risk factors for type 2 diabetes so that you know how vigilant you should be about potential diabetes symptoms.
1. High body mass index (BMI)
If you have a high BMI or know you’re overweight, you’re definitely more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Even if you are not hugely overweight, it is important to think about where you carry any excess weight on your body. In particular, if you are a woman with a waist of more than 31.5 inches or a man with a waist of more than 37 inches, you are in the danger zone. A combination of cardiovascular exercise, resistance training and reduced calorie intake should help you reduce your risk.
2. Family history
If you have a parent or sibling who has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, your own likelihood of developing diabetes is increased. However, a family history of diabetes is not a guarantee that you will end up with the disease, and it’s important to stay healthy rather than taking a defeatist attitude.
3. Sedentary lifestyle
Slender or average people often feel there is no compelling reason to hit the gym, but being physically active can cut your chance of getting a wide range of different diseases even if you are not overweight. Diabetes is one of them.
Everyone should be more aware of potential signs of diabetes after the age of 40, as the majority of diagnoses are received in later life. Changes in urinary frequency, thirst, energy levels and slow wound healing should always be reported to your doctor.
5. Poor cardiovascular health
Looking after your heart in early life could lead to a reduced risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. In addition to promoting your general health, reducing your risk of these common cardiovascular problems also seems to afford people some measure of protection against type 2 diabetes. If you do develop high blood pressure, getting it under control as quickly as possible may help to reduce your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
6. A diagnosis of prediabetes
Your doctor will have told you that you have prediabetes if your blood sugar has tested as above normal and yet is not quite in the range required for a diabetes diagnosis. You can take prediabetes as a sign that you should exercise more often and shed any excess weight in order to cut your risk of developing full-blown diabetes. In some cases, your doctor may also recommend metformin (an oral antidiabetic drug).
7. Low levels of HDL cholesterol
Studies show that people with low HDL (or ‘good’) cholesterol are more likely to end up with diabetes. If your tests show that your HDL is lower than 35 mg/dL, you can boost your levels by reducing your alcohol intake and consuming more whole grains, nuts and omega-3 fatty acids.
8. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Finally, if you are a woman with PCOS, you may be more likely to have problems producing appropriate levels of insulin and therefore be more prone to developing diabetes. You may have undiagnosed PCOS if you have infrequent periods, excess hair growth and chronic acne.