Are You Adding to
Factors You Can Control
AS you learned from the preceding chapter, heredity alone doesn't determine who will get diabetes. In fact, many other elements—one or a combination—may influence whether an individual with an inherited predisposition to the disease will actually develop it. Your complete pattern of genes (genotype) is set from birth, but certain traits make their appearance only because the environment acts in certain ways on these genes.
By this standard, your chances of preventing Type II diabetes—or certainly of delaying its onset and lessening its impact—are excellent. For Type I, the mechanisms that set it off are more complex and less able to be controlled, but the latest research offers more hope that it, too, can be headed off before it develops.
Some of the characteristics and circumstances, other than heredity, that are common to diabetes are discussed here. (As before, Type I and Type II are treated separately, because they are different diseases.) Make note of which risk factors apply to you or other family members. You will see that some elements—obesity in Type II, for instance, or exposure to viruses for Type I—can be eliminated or avoided, lowering the odds of developing diabetes. Others, such as eth