The is no clear answer to whether diabetes is genetic or hereditary (or both). The answer depends on the type of diabetes you are talking about and many other factors like diet and lifestyle.
What are genetic illnesses?
Genetic Alliance UK defines genetic illnesses as ” a disease caused by changes, or mutations, in an individual’s DNA sequence.” The important thing here is that these diseases result from altering one or more genes and may not be hereditary. Some genetic diseases include cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anaemia and Huntington’s disease.
What are hereditary illnesses?
Hereditary illnesses all have a genetic origin and are passed on through generations with symptoms not necessarily presenting themselves from birth.
There are genetic and hereditary elements to diabetes, as it has no apparent cause. However, genetic factors can make some people more vulnerable to diabetes.
Is type 1 diabetes genetic or hereditary?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy cells that make insulin, the hormone that carries glucose to be used for energy into cells. The result of this is hyperglycemia – where the glucose level in the blood is too high.
In the past, doctors believed that type 1 diabetes was wholly genetic. However, not everyone who has developed type 1 diabetes has a family history of it.
People with type 1 diabetes may have the associated autoimmune antibodies in their blood for many years before symptoms show themselves. However, after the autoimmune antibodies are triggered, symptoms can appear quickly.
Is type 2 diabetes genetic or hereditary?
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes globally.
As with type 1 diabetes, people with type 2 diabetes often have a close family member who also has the condition. However, experts believe that lifestyle factors have the most significant impact on whether a person develops type 2 diabetes or not.
Other factors influencing whether a person develops type 2 diabetes include:
- aged 45 or over
- a history of cardiovascular disease
- a history of gestational diabetes
- a sedentary lifestyle involving limited physical activity
- excess weight, a high body mass index (BMI) or obesity
- high blood pressure
- high levels of fat and cholesterol in the blood
What can you do to reduce the risk of passing on diabetes?
Medical researchers do not yet know all the genetic risk factors that can cause diabetes. It is not feasible for everyone to be tested to determine their risk of developing diabetes.
However, if you have family members who have diabetes and are worried that you may develop the condition, you can take steps to reduce this risk. These include eating healthy balanced meals, keeping physically active, and maintaining healthy body weight.
How to test for diabetes at home.
Taking an at-home blood glucose test is an affordable and safe way for people to check whether their blood glucose levels are higher or lower than the norm before it causes problems.
This can be helpful, as diabetes does not always cause symptoms, especially early on.
It is important to note that you cannot diagnose diabetes with an at-home test by itself. If you have an unusual reading on your blood glucose, you will need to consult your doctor for further tests.