Type 2 Diabetes Causes and Risk Factors

Type 2 Diabetes Causes and Risk Factors

There are no known, specific causes for Type 2 diabetes. However, those most at risk for Type 2 diabetes are adults 45 years and older and those of any age who are sedentary and overweight.

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    There are many things, called risk factors, that affect your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Some of these you can change, like whether or not you smoke, and some you can't, like your age. It's important to know where you stand in your risk for diabetes and heart disease. Once you know your risk, you can take steps to lower your risk so you can lead a longer, healthier life.

    Either way, understanding and managing your risk can help you prevent diabetes and heart disease and live a longer, better life.

    Risk factors include:
    • Overweight
    • High blood glucose (sugar)
    • History of diabetes during pregnancy, called gestational diabetes (for women)
    • High blood pressure
    • Unhealthy cholesterol
    • Physical inactivity
    • Smoking
    • Unhealthy eating
    • Age, race, gender, and family history
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    Did you know that being an apple shape (more fat around your middle) rather than a pear shape (more fat around your hips) puts you at greater risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease? Another measure you can take is of how far it is around your waist (your waist circumference).

    Take a tape measure (a flexible one is best) and place it snugly (not tight) around your waist. Compare the length around your waist to the number below. If the length of your waist is the same or bigger than the numbers below, you have too much weight around your waist.
    • Men: over 40 inches
    • Women: over 35 inches
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    A , Pharmacy, answered
    Type 2 diabetes causes other health problems, especially if blood sugar levels are not well controlled. Type 2 diabetes can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, vision problems and blindness, kidney disease and kidney failure, nerve damage and amputations.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Your blood glucose level is monitored by cells in your pancreas that are the lone producers of insulin, the hormone that transports glucose from the outside to the inside of your cells so your body can transform that glucose into usable energy.

    When the alarm sounds to make more insulin to help transport the extra blood glucose, the body can act like a chubby runner at the front of a marathon; it just can't keep up. It huffs and puffs and makes more insulin, but the demand is just too great.

    A person with type 2 diabetes has lost this glucose-insulin struggle. And so a vicious cycle begins: It made sense for us to store fat to survive when we were likely to have famines periodically or failed bison hunts, but today that fat causes insulin resistance, which makes us eat more, which causes more fat, which is associated with eating more, so we accumulate more fat, which causes more insulin resistance, and so on.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Type II diabetes occurs most often in people who are overweight. Although the reasons are unclear, excess weight seems to impede the body's ability to metabolize sugar properly. That fact would make one think that it was environmental causes -- that is, overeating -- that was to blame. But no, it's a genetically transmitted disease with what is called variable penetrance. Variable penetrance means that if you're a twin and your twin gets type II diabetes, you have the genes for it, but the rate of penetrance -- that is, how often one sees the clinical manifestations of diabetes and how much it ages you -- is governed to a large degree by your lifestyle choices.

    Type II diabetes affects 15 to 25 percent of adults over age fifty-five but is more prevalent among some groups of people than others, confirming that a genetic component is in operation. For example, African-Americans, particularly women, are much more susceptible to type II diabetes than other people their age. Indeed, 25 percent of African-Americans over the age of fifty-five have type II diabetes. Among certain Native American populations, the prevalence can be as high as 80 percent. However, in many cases, the disease is triggered by a combination of genetic predisposition and lifestyle choices. Ninety percent of those who get type II diabetes are considerably overweight, and most of these individuals also do not exercise or have a proper diet, further exacerbating the condition. If you "live young," you will have less chance of getting type II diabetes, no matter what genes you have.
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    A Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism, answered on behalf of
    What are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes?
    What puts you at risk for type 2 diabetes? In this video, Scripps Health endocrinologist Athena Philis-Tsimikas, MD, reveals three of the top diabetes risk factors. Ladies, there's one in here that you should know about.
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  • 6 Answers
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    A Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism, answered on behalf of
    What Causes Type 2 Diabetes?
    Type 2 diabetes is caused over time, says Holly Anderson, Outpatient Diabetes Coordinator at Reston Hospital Center. Learn how it happens, and how long it takes, by watching this short video.
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    After lots of studies and research, the best we can say is maybe. Stress can elevate blood glucose levels. Sometimes this is the direct effect of stress hormones. Other times, it's because stress leads people to eat more and be less active, which can also raise blood glucose levels. We know this is true for people who already have diabetes. So, it seems likely that if your blood glucose levels are already higher than normal (but not yet high enough to call it diabetes), stress could push your levels into the diabetes range.

    So the stress of a serious life event, such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job, could play a part in developing diabetes. However, it is likely you would have eventually developed diabetes anyway as insulin resistance increased or insulin production decreased.

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Dr. Robin Miller - pesticides and Type 2 diabetes

    Type 2 diabetes rates continue to climb, and there are many contributing factors. In this video, Dr. Robin Miller discusses a study from Finland that links pesticide exposure and type 2 diabetes.


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    A Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism, answered on behalf of
    Why does obesity raise my risk for developing type 2 diabetes?
    Being overweight can affect the body's ability to use insulin. In this video, Ronald Tamler, MD, clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center, discuses insulin resistance, diabetes and obesity.
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