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"What are some risk factors for diabetes?"


I am 29 and come from a long line of diabetics. What risk factors should I avoid?


It is great that you are aware of the possibility of developing diabetes and are proactive in trying to modify your risk factors. You should speak with your primary care physician to discuss your specific situation in detail and discuss possible management options. Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a chronic condition in which glucose is not metabolized correctly because of insulin abnormalities and results in hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels).

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There are two main types of DM - Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 DM is due to destruction of the beta cells in your pancreas that produce insulin and is most commonly autoimmune in nature. There is no known way to modify your risks for this type of DM as it is determined by genetics. Type 2 DM, the most common form, is due to a combination of both insulin deficiency and insulin resistance (when your body needs more insulin to have the same effect on blood glucose levels). It is highly related to excess weight and obesity. Obesity itself causes increased insulin resistance. Having a sedentary lifestyle with minimal exercise and an unbalanced diet is a modifiable risk factor for diabetes. Exercise actually improves insulin resistance on its own, apart from its effect on obesity. The best advice to modify your risk factors is to have daily exercise, decrease obesity, and eat a well balanced diet. If you a very strong family history of DM, it is possible that you cannot avoid developing DM, but you may be able to postpone its development and need for medication. You should speak with your primary care physician about your risk factors and other possible modifications.

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