Is diabetes genetic? | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

Genes and diet can play a role in developing Type 2 diabetes

Even if you are genetically prone to diabetes, you can delay or prevent it by making healthy food choices, exercising and losing weight.

Type 2 diabetes is genetic in the sense that you may inherit a predisposition to the disease, but not the disease itself. Put another way, a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet and lack of exercise can trigger diabetes in some people, but not others.

Type 2 diabetes runs in families partly because of genetics and partly because children often learn bad habits like poor diet and lack of exercise from their parents. There also is a genetic component to obesity.

Even if you are genetically prone to diabetes, you can delay or prevent it by making healthy food choices, exercising and losing weight.

“Heredity and the habits we grew up with help explain why African American adults are 60% more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to be diagnosed with diabetes and twice as likely to die from diabetes,” said Steven Patton, D.O., family medicine physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Preston.


Diabetes has its own complications that develop gradually. They include:

  • Cardiovascular disease. Diabetes increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Nerve damage due to excess sugar can lead to tingling, numbness or pain that gradually spreads from the tips of your toes or fingers.
  • Kidney damage. By damaging the kidneys’ method of filtering waste from your blood, diabetes can lead to kidney failure that requires dialysis or a kidney transplant.
  • Eye damage. Damage to the retina’s blood vessels can lead to blindness.
  • Foot infections. Diabetes causes nerve damage and reduces blood flow to the feet, which increases the risk of cuts and blisters. Left untreated, these wounds can become severely infected and difficult to heal. The condition can result in the need for amputation.

Your risk for Type 2 diabetes will determine whether you should have your blood sugar checked as frequently as once per year. If increased blood sugar levels are detected early, losing weight or medication will have a better chance of keeping diabetes at bay.

Checking your blood sugar for signs of diabetes is a simple blood test, and the results are available quickly, especially if you’ve signed up for a free MyNortonChart account.


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