All about Diabetes > Diabetes Simplified > Risks

Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes:

  • Genetics and family history

    Having family members with diabetes is a major risk factor. The American Diabetes Association recommends that anyone with a first-degree relative with Type 1 diabetes -- a mother, father, sister, or brother -- should get screened for diabetes. A simple blood test can diagnose Type 1 diabetes.
  • Diseases of the pancreas

    Injury or diseases of the pancreas can inhibit its ability to produce insulin and lead to Type 1 diabetes.
  • Infection or illness

    A range of relatively rare infections and illnesses can damage the pancreas and cause Type 1 diabetes.

Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes:

Here are the risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes

  • Obesity or being overweight

    Diabetes has long been linked to obesity and being overweight. Research at the Harvard School of Public Health showed that the single best predictor of Type 2 diabetes is being obese or overweight.
  • Impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose

    Pre-diabetes is a milder form of diabetes that is sometimes called impaired glucose tolerance. It can be diagnosed with a simple blood test. Prediabetes is a major risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • Insulin resistance

    Type 2 diabetes often starts with cells that are resistant to insulin. That means they are unable to take in insulin as it moves glucose from the blood into cells. With insulin resistance, the pancreas has to work overly hard to produce enough insulin so cells can get the energy they need. This involves a complex process that eventually leads to Type 2 diabetes.
  • Ethnic background

    Diabetes occurs more often in Hispanic/Latino Americans, African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, Pacific Islanders and Alaska natives.
  • High blood pressure

    Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for diabetes. High blood pressure is generally defined as 140/90 mm Hg or higher. Low levels of HDL "good" cholesterol and high triglyceride levels also put you at risk.
  • History of gestational diabetes

    If you developed diabetes while you were pregnant, you have had what is called gestational diabetes. Having had gestational diabetes puts you at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.
  • Sedentary lifestyle

    Being inactive or exercising fewer than three times a week, makes you more likely to develop diabetes.
  • Family history

    Having a family history of diabetes, a parent or sibling who has been diagnosed with this condition - increases your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome

    Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are at higher risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Age

    Some doctors advise anyone over 45 years, to be screened for diabetes. Increasing age puts you at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. It is important to remember, though, that people at any age can develop diabetes. If you are over 45 years and overweight or if you have symptoms of diabetes, talk to your doctor about a simple screening test.


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