Diabetes Risk
Know Yours and Avoid the Epidemic

Your diabetes risk is something you need to know. Type 2 diabetes is now an epidemic, but you can avoid it. This simple risk test will keep type 2 diabetes from sneaking up on you.

The American Diabetes Association estimates that 6 million people have type 2 diabetes and do not know it.

But they are one simple fingerstick blood test away from avoiding its complications.

The best part is if you know your risk, you can take steps to avoid type 2 diabetes.

Take This Risk Test for Type 2 Diabetes

  • You have a parent, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes.
  • Your family background includes one of the ethnic groups at higher risk for type 2.
  • You tested positive for diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes).
  • You are a woman with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).
  • You have high blood pressure.
  • Your cholesterol is too high with triglycerides above 250 mg/dL.
  • You are sedentary. You exercise less than three times a week for less than 30 minutes at a time.
Blood testing is simple but life-changing for diabetics.
  • You have a history of heart problems or artery disease.
  • You had an abnormally high blood sugar test in the past.
  • You have a dark velvety rash on your neck or in your armpits.
  • Your BMI is high on the weight charts.

If you fit any of these statements, get your blood sugar tested, not just once but every year or so. That way type 2 diabetes cannot sneak up on you.

If You Are Prediabetic

Having a fasting blood sugar over 80 on a glucose test does not make you a type 2 diabetic. It does mean you need to do things to lower your diabetes risk.

If you lower your weight by changing some of the things you eat, that will lower your risk immediately.

And if you exercise more than 30 minutes a day several times a week, you will drastically change your diabetes risk.

Prediabetics over 60 who changed their lifestyle in these two ways reduced their risk by 71%.

Under 60 prediabetics lowered their risk by 58%, but that is just an average. You might do much better.

It all depends on whether you will change. Becoming physically active every day is guaranteed to transform your life. But it is important to make reasonable goals for yourself.

Losing as little as 5-7% of body weight has been shown to reverse prediabetes. The changes to your diet can be small but they need to be permanent.

Remember these facts and you will be more likely to sustain your new lifestyle.

  • Drastic changes usually do not last.
  • Fad diets are hard to stick with. They rarely last more than a few months.
  • It is better to do things you enjoy for daily exercise. Boredom is your enemy here.

Why Know Your Risk?

Why should you care about your diabetes risk? Almost 10% of the U. S. population had diabetes in 2010, and there were 79 million prediabetics.

Here is the breakdown by age. One in 400 of people under 20 have diabetes. Over 20 years old it becomes one in ten. In people over 65 the number jumps to one in four.

More than half of diabetic death certificates list heart disease as the first cause. Diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness and kidney disease.

Three out of four diabetics have nervous system disorders, also called neuropathy.

Over half of amputations not caused by trauma are performed on diabetics. These are the things we diabetics who are getting older have to face as possibilities.

It has been proven over and over that early and sustained blood sugar control lowers the risk of complications.

But if you are one of the millions who are unaware of your high blood sugar, these things will catch up with you. Know your diabetes risk and you can change your future.

The Difference Between Type 2 and Type 1

In the simplest terms, type 2 diabetes is a disease caused by too much sugar in your blood. The main cause is resistance of your muscle, liver and fat cells to the hormone insulin.

If your blood levels of glucose and insulin are higher than normal, you are prediabetic. If the levels are a lot higher, you are a type 2 diabetic.

Type 1 diabetes comes from your own immune system attacking the beta cells in your pancreas. In infants and small children this happens quickly.

But in a teenager or adult it can take years to lose all of your insulin-making beta cells. When your blood is tested for glucose and insulin, glucose will be high but insulin levels will not.

Since a blood test is the only way to be sure diabetes is present, knowing your diabetes risk for both kinds of diabetes will add years to your life.

Where Do Those Risks Come From?

Your family history is number one. Researchers use twins to prove the diabetes risk for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

If a twin has type 1 diabetes the other one has a 50% chance of having it also. If one twin develops type 2, the other has a 75% chance of becoming type 2.

Genes also play a statistical role in diabetes risk. For type 2 the risk increases if your family tree includes certain genetic types.

They include African American, Alaskan native, Native American, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic/Latino.

For type 1 diabetes, the white European races have a higher risk. Oddly, people who live in cold climates are more at risk for getting type 1.

For example, Finland has four times as many type 1 diabetics as the United States and 400 times more than the South American country of Venezuela.

But it goes beyond genetics. A virus can trigger the autoimmune response that slowly destroys beta cells. Some viruses even target and cripple the pancreas, turning a healthy young person into a type 1 diabetic in the course of one illness.

The short list is Epstein-Barre, mumps and cytomegalovirus, and there are others we do not know about yet. A virus that has no lasting effect on one person can cause type 1 diabetes in another.

Other possible diabetes risk factors have not been proven. Low vitamin D, not enough omega-3 fatty acids, and nitrates in drinking water are being studied. Also, newborn jaundice seems to increase the risk for type 1.

If you become type 1 diabetic as an adult, the sooner you get on insulin and regulate your blood sugar levels the better. Make sure your doctor knows how to tell adult onset type 1 from type 2 diabetes.

If You Are Type 2 Diabetic, Is It Too Late?

The things that lower your diabetes risk will still work for you. Lose some weight, get in shape, change your eating habits.

Those things have been shown to reverse type 2 diabetes. Doctors see 50% of their type 2 diabetic patients put the disease in remission this way.

Meanwhile, take the medications you have been given, and do not skip or quit.

Avoiding complications is a top priority for you now, so keep all of your doctor's appointments and get the tests they ask for.

You might try joining a clinical trial or two. Those trials will monitor and improve your diabetic condition.

All of the medications and exams will be free, and they give topnotch care. You will learn a lot, and that by itself will improve your diabetes care.

If you are interested in clinical trials for diabetes, here is the government's information website: www.ClinicalTrials.gov.

No matter what genetics and family history you were born with, you can lower the risks and avoid the terrible complications of diabetes.

Advice on a healthy diet, weight loss, and ways to make exercise a habit will help you get started. But it is the changes you make that will shape your future.

Once you have decided to change, you might find that fighting diabetes has led you onto a new path full of unexpected opportunities. Enjoy the journey!

  • "If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking."

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