Risk Factors for Type 2 Diabetes

Risk Factors for Developing Type 2 Diabetes

There are several risk factors to developing Type 2 Diabetes, some of which you can control and others that are hereditary or unable to be changed. Although you cannot change your heredity, you can make vast improvements in your lifestyle that will reduce your chances of developing diabetes. The more risk factors you have the greater your chances of developing diabetes and other health related issues.

Fixed Risk Factors – Risk factors that cannot be changed.

Age: The older you are, the more your risks of developing diabetes increase. Eighteen percent of people over the age of 65 have diabetes; eight percent between ages 21 and 64.

Family History: If you have an immediate family member (parent, brother or sister) with diabetes, you have a 40 percent increased risk of developing diabetes.

Ethnicity: You are predisposed to develop diabetes if you are Alaska Native, American Indian (three times the risk), African American (1.7 times the risk), Hispanic/Latino (two times the risk), Asian American, or Pacific Islander.

History of Gestational Diabetes: 2-5 percent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes. Forty percent of women that had Gestational Diabetes will develop diabetes in later years. Giving birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds may signal an increased risk for the mother to develop diabetes in the future.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A common endocrine disorder among females. PCOS is the most frequent endocrine problem in women of reproductive age. It is also one of the leading causes of subfertility in women. If not treated, PCOS can lead to development of diabetes.

Modifiable Risk Factors – Risk factors that you have control of or can be changed.

Weight: The more overweight, and the longer you are overweight, the greater your risk of developing diabetes. For every 2.2 pounds you are over your target weight, you increase your risk of developing diabetes by 4.5 percent. Body mass index over 25, or a waist circumference in men over 40 inches, women over 35 inches, indicates unhealthy weight.

Activity Level: Regular exercise, 30 minutes 3-4 times a week, can reduce your risk of diabetes by 42 percent, because exercise improves the use of insulin in your body. Lack of exercising regularly is considered a risk factor.

High Blood Pressure: If you have high blood pressure (140/90mm Hg or higher), you have a 20 percent higher risk of developing diabetes. Although not directly modifiable, changes in exercise and nutrition affect your blood pressure and can help lower your levels.

High Blood Lipids: If your total cholesterol is over 200 mg/dL, triglycerides over 150mg/dL, HDL lower than 60mg/dL, and LDL over 100mg/dL, your risk of developing diabetes increases. Similar to high blood pressure, lipids can also be changed through a healthy lifestyle.

Fasting Blood Glucose: A fasting blood glucose over 100 mg/dL may indicate that you have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). Left untreated, 70 percent of people with impaired glucose tolerance (pre-diabetes) will progress to diabetes. A fasting blood glucose of 126mg/dL and above on two occasions indicates diabetes. Random blood glucose value of 200mg/dL or more is indicative of diabetes. Know your numbers and make healthy changes early.

Smoking: Smoking is a health hazard. Active smokers have a 44 percent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Additional Factors

These factors may also indicate a pre-disposition to developing type 2 diabetes:

  • Certain medication usage, such as steroids
  • Indicators of insulin resistance, such as acanthosis nigricans, a brown to black hyperpigmentation of the skin
  • History of cardiovascular disease or metabolic syndrome
  • Certain autoimmune diseases

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