Genetics And Diabetes: What Is The Connection?

By Medically reviewed by Hello Doktor Medical Panel

Diabetes is caused by several factors. Besides nutrition and exercise, genetic also contribute to diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, you will likely suffer from type 2 diabetes if one or both of your parents have diabetes.

Though several gene mutations have been linked to diabetes, none of them actually cause the disease by themselves. In order to affect your health, those genetic factors must be combined with other environmental elements.

In fact, it difficult to separate completely the risks lie in your genes and the ones coming from your lifestyle. As lifestyle choices are usually passed down to you from your parents,  inactive parents tend to have inactive children. Unhealthy eating habits are likely to be passed to the next generation.

What are the genes responsible for type 2 diabetes?

Studies of twins have shown that genetics might have some influences on type 2 diabetes., according to the American Diabetes Association. These studies were not totally conclusive because of the environmental influences that also increase type 2 diabetes risk. The contribution of each gene is relatively little. However, the more additional mutation you have, the higher your risks seem to increase.

Generally, your risks of type 2 diabetes will rise if you have mutations in the genes that control:

  • Production of glucose;
  • Production of insulin;
  • How glucose levels are sensed in the body;
  • Regulation of insulin.

Genes that have been associated with type 2 diabetes risk include:

  • TCF7L2, which affects insulin secretion and glucose production;
  • The sulfonylurea urea receptor (ABCC8), which helps regulate insulin;
  • Calpain 10, which is associated with type 2 diabetes risk in Mexican Americans;
  • Glucose transporter 2 (GLUT2), which helps move glucose into the pancreas;
  • The glucagon receptor (GCGR), a glucagon hormone involved in glucose regulation.

What are genetic tests for type 2 diabetes?

Even though there are tests available to detect diabetes gene mutations, the major risks depend much more on other predictors including:

  • Body mass index (BMI);
  • High blood pressure;
  • Elevated triglycerides and cholesterol levels;
  • History of gestational diabetes.

The interactions between genetics and the environment make it inconclusive to measure the actual part gene mutations play on causing type 2 diabetes. Having some genetics factors does not mean you are definitely sentenced with diabetes. With positive changes in lifestyle such as increased physical activities and weight loss, diabetes can be prevented.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnose or treatment.

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Review Date: December 21, 2016 | Last Modified: December 6, 2019

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