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Diabetes Myths

There are so many myths about Type 2 Diabetes, and some of the folks we trust to treat us even buy into them. The more you know about the myths, and the truth, the better equipped you will be to fight your War On Diabetes. The other day I was in the grocery store and overheard someone talking on their phone, “…well, it’s their own fault they have Diabetes.” Which brings us to what I think is the all time biggest Diabetes myths:

Diabetes Myths 1: “It’s Your Fault You Have Diabetes”

Have you heard that one? I have and it makes me angry every time I hear it. Why? Because with just a bit of thought you know it just is not true. A little numbers review: There are about 25,600,000 Diabetics in the United States, and very likely that number is higher. Ninety percent (90%) of them (23,000,000+) are Type 2 Diabetics. There are 351,000,000+ Diabetics in the world; some say as many as 371,000,000! Anyway you look at it, that’s a lot of folks! To put it in another perspective, it’s as if the entire populations of Canada and the United States had Diabetes. If we all gave ourselves Type 2 Diabetes, we would all exhibit the same behavior and look the same; i.e. we would all be obese according to BMI standards. It would also mean that if you lined up ten folks who were obese, which is defined as a BMI of 30.0+, they would all have Diabetes. The reality is that not all ten would; not even eight or nine out of the ten would have Diabetes. So, how do we get Diabetes? Researchers are not sure.

The exact causes of type 2 diabetes aren’t completely understood, but it is known that the disease has a strong hereditary component. Individuals who have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes have 10 to 15% chance of developing the disease (the risk is much higher if the sibling is an identical twin). Environmental factors like an inactive lifestyle or poor diet may act as a trigger for someone with a genetic tendency towards type 2 diabetes. Other potential causes of type 2 include chronic stress, low birth weight, and gene mutations. ( The cause of type 2 diabetes is largely unknown, but genetics and lifestyle clearly playroles. Type 2 diabetes is likely caused by a complex interaction of predisposing genetic factors and environmental influences. The exact cause of type 2 diabetes is unknown. However, there is an inherited susceptibility which causes it to run in families. Although a person can inherit a tendency to develop type 2 diabetes, it usually takes another factor, such as obesity, to bring on the disease. (Obesity as a risk factor; not the cause.)

Okay. Get the point? You did not give yourself Diabetes no matter what someone tells you because the cause of Type 2 Diabetes has not been identified. Heck, if the experts don’t know what causes Type 2 Diabetes, how can others know? Yes, there are risk factors and they are well known and agreed upon. But, they are just that, risk factors.

About 75 million Americans either have type 2 diabetes or are on their way to developing it. Your risk increases as you get older (over 45 years old), if you are overweight or obese, or if you if you carry most of your weight around your abdomen. Having any of the following factors also puts you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes:
  • You are African American, Hispanic American, Asian American, Native American or Pacific Islander
  • You have a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes
  • You are generally physically inactive
  • You’ve already been told you have pre-diabetes
  • You had gestational diabetes or a baby who weighed more than nine pounds
  • Your blood pressure is 140/90 or above
  • Your triglyceride level is above 250 mg/dl or your HDL is below 35 mg/dl
  • You are a woman who has Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
The more risk factors you have, the higher your chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

So, now you know the truth. We do not know what causes Type 2 Diabetes. We can describe what it does and the complications it brings, but we do not know what causes it.

For more information, please visit War on Diabetes


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