Is diabetes hereditary?

Find Diabetes Clinics »

There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of developing diabetes and having a diabetic within your family is certainly one of them. However, because diabetes type I is an autoimmune disease (meaning that it is caused by your own immune cells attacking the cells that would usually produce insulin), any occurrence of any type of autoimmune disease in your family could mean that you have a higher risk of developing diabetes. For example, if there are a large number of people in your family with lupus disease or rheumatoid arthritis then you might have a higher risk of developing diabetes. There are numerous studies investigating the particular gene that might cause diabetes, but so far many different genes have been implicated to varying extents and the overarching fact is that a mixture of genetic and lifestyle factors seem to be the biggest indicator of your susceptibility to diabetes. This could be a very consoling thought if you have numerous diabetics in your family as it means that you could reduce your risk of becoming diabetic yourself by maintaining a healthy lifestyle (avoiding becoming obese, taking regular exercise and eating a healthy, balanced diet). Equally, you could be the first person in your family to be diagnosed as a diabetic either due to your lifestyle (i.e. developing type II diabetes due to obesity and an unhealthy diet) or due to a genetic mutation that causes the cells of your immune system to attack your pancreatic β cells so that you are unable to produce insulin.

« Why have I become diabetic? Does alcohol increase the risk of diabetes? »