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Is Diabetes Hereditary?

Expertly reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD · Internal or General Medicine

Written by Hello Bacsi · Updated Jun 03, 2022

Is Diabetes Hereditary?

Many people realize that their grandparents and parents have diabetes and worry about whether they are at risk for this disease. Rest assured because the following article will clear it up for you. Is diabetes hereditary? What factors will be involved in this process?

Is type 2 diabetes hereditary?

For the question of whether diabetes is hereditary, you need to know that nutrition and physical activity factors have a great influence on causing type 2 diabetes. However, an equally important cause is still genetic.

If you just found out you have type 2 diabetes, double-check everything. You may not be the first in your family to develop diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is:

  • 1/7: If your father or mother was diagnosed with diabetes before the age of 50
  • 1/13: If your parent was diagnosed with diabetes after the age of 50
  • 1/2: If both your parents have diabetes

There are a number of gene mutations associated with diabetes risk. None of these genes alone cause diabetes. Instead, they interact with environmental factors (for example, toxins, viruses, and foods ) and increase your risk of disease.

How do genetic factors cause type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is caused by both genetic and environmental factors. To understand whether diabetes is hereditary and the role of genetic factors, please refer to the following issues:

Gene mutation

Scientists have linked multiple gene mutations with a higher risk of diabetes. Not everyone who carries a mutated gene gets diabetes. However, many people with diabetes carry one or more of these mutations.

Lifestyle and inheritance from family

It can be difficult to separate lifestyle risk from genetic risk. Lifestyle choices tend to be influenced by family. If parents are sedentary, often their children are also sedentary. Parents with unhealthy eating habits can also influence the next generation.

Is diabetes hereditary? Which gene is involved in type 2 diabetes?

Studies by the American Diabetes Association in twins suggest that type 2 diabetes can be influenced by genetics. However, these studies are complicated by effects of the environment as it also has an impact on the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Scientists are still doing research. To date, many mutations have been shown to affect the risk of type 2 diabetes. In general, the contribution of one gene is negligible, but each mutation increases the risk of the disease.

In general, mutations in any of the inherited genes involved in glucose regulation have a significant effect on the risk of type 2 diabetes.

These include genes that control:

  • Glucose production
  • The production of insulin
  • The body’s sensitivity to glucose levels
  • Regulation of insulin levels

Genes associated with type 2 diabetes risk include:

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

What is genetic testing for type 2 diabetes?

At this point, you probably already know whether diabetes is hereditary. Tests are now available for some of the gene mutations associated with type 2 diabetes. However, the increase in risk for any given mutation is quite small. Other factors that can accurately predict whether you will develop type 2 diabetes include:

  • Body mass index ( BMI )
  • Family history
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Increased blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels
  • History of gestational diabetes

The interaction between genetics and environment makes it difficult to pinpoint the true cause of type 2 diabetes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t limit your risk. There is evidence that behavioral changes can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Studies in many countries have shown that if type 2 diabetes is to be prevented or delayed, weight loss and increased physical activity that help support blood sugar levels can return to normal levels in many people.

Learn more about Type 2 Diabetes here


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

Expertly reviewed by

Dexter Macalintal, MD

Internal or General Medicine

Written by Hello Bacsi · Updated Jun 03, 2022

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