Who Is At Risk for Developing Diabetes?

Diabetes Mellitus Type I or Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM) is a genetic disease. It appears that people with this genetic pre-disposition develop an auto-immune disorder in which the immune system attacks the beta cells within the pancreas that are responsible for making insulin. The exact reason that the cells attack is not known but certain viral infections such as mumps, congenital rubella, and the coxsackie-virus have been shown to trigger the autoimmune response. Only 10% of people have DiabetesMellitus Type I.

Diabetes Mellitus Type II or Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) occurs when there is a decreased ability of your body’s cells to respond to the insulin produced by the pancreas; when there is liver damage leading to poor control of glucose output by the liver; or when decreased beta cell function leads to failure.

Heredity plays a major role in this type of diabetes, with an even higher rate of incidence within family members than with DM Type I. 90% of diabetics have Type II diabetes. Other risk factors that you cannot change are age (greater than 45) and race (African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Asian-American).

Risk factors for Type II diabetes that you can do something about include obesity, lack of exercise and a diet high in fats. Research has shown that weight reduction through diet changes and exercise can actually prevent diabetes. A history of gestational diabetes (high blood glucose levels during pregnancy), hypertension, high cholesterol, triglyceride and lipid levels are also risk factors that add an indirect risk to developing diabetes and lifestyle changes should be made to help control these risks. Certain prescription drugs such as steroids will also increase your risk of developing DM Type II.