Diabetes mellitus: genetic predisposition, risks and consequences

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Diabetes mellitus: genetic predisposition, risks and consequences

As of 2018, 10% of people in the world have diabetes. This is a serious problem, as the disease can have serious complications, even death. Pathology began to spread in the 80s of the last century, and by the 21st century it became one of the leading non-communicable diseases. In 2006, even the UN General Assembly declared diabetes as a global threat and called on all countries to urgently take measures to combat the disease and strengthen preventive measures. A WHO global report notes that by 2030, diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death worldwide.

Diabetes mellitus is one of the endocrine pathologies and is formed due to a critical decrease in the level of the hormone insulin produced by the pancreas. Being the only hormone that reduces the level of glucose in the blood, insulin distributes glucose in the body tissues, combining its function of the entire metabolism in the body, including fats and proteins. In the case of a decrease in its production, the cells of the body suffer from a state of lack of glucose, despite an increased level of sugar in the blood.  

There are three types of diabetes mellitus: insulin-dependent – the first type, non-insulin-dependent – the second type, and gestational, developing during pregnancy. The most common is type 2 diabetes, the risk of its development largely depends on the genetic predisposition.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is dangerous due to complications that may arise from the nervous, cardiovascular systems, vision, kidneys, and severe purulent-necrotic lesions of the feet (diabetic top). The treatment of type 2 diabetes is complex and complex: the normalization of nutrition and lifestyle, the use of sugar-lowering drugs, and in severe cases, insulin is used. Type 1 diabetes requires continuous hormone replacement therapy with insulin, and the discovery of insulin by the Canadian physician Frederick Bunting in 1922 was a success in controlling the disease . Now insulin is produced using genetic engineering. The first type of diabetes has not yet been completely cured, but you can control the level of glucose in the blood, minimize complications and lead a full-fledged lifestyle.  

Pathology encoded in genes

It is worth mentioning right away that a genetic predisposition to any disease is not a sentence, but only an increased risk. This should not be treated in a panic, but reasonably. We understand that even fifty years ago, medicine could not give a person a chance to find out the features of their genes. Today, there is an opportunity to find out what your genes are hiding and to begin work on risk prevention in advance. This became possible due to the fact that the global program for decoding the human genome, which had begun in 1988, was finally completed by 2003. Science has learned most of the genes of the human genome and for the implementation of what functions and characteristics of the body they are responsible.

The risk of developing diabetes is controlled by a number of genes, namely:

  • SLC30A8,
  • TCF7L2,
  • PPARG2,
  • IL6,
  • KCNJ11.

Each of them is responsible for the structures in the body that have a direct impact on the implementation of type 2 diabetes. For example, insulin resistance. This is a condition of poor perception by the cells and tissues of the body of the hormone insulin, sensitivity to it is reduced. The pancreas is forced to produce more insulin to provide energy to the cell, but because of the inability to penetrate the cell, glucose remains in the blood. Blood sugar levels rise gradually.

In addition, a constant increase in blood insulin often leads to obesity and the inability to lose weight, since insulin blocks the breakdown of adipose tissue. The state of insulin resistance is often a vicious cycle for the problem of normalizing weight. The level of insulin in the body is constantly increased and determines the state of loss of strength, weakness and depression.

Since the energy in the cell is not enough, a person begins to replenish it with additional carbohydrates, which, in turn, stimulates the production of insulin up to the depletion of the pancreas. Insulin resistance is largely determined by “genetic breakdown”, and you can also read the slowdown in the process of carbohydrate absorption in genes. Knowing all this, it is possible to start prevention in a timely manner, preventing the realization of genetic risks.

If the disease has already been diagnosed, information exists in the genes CYBA, ACE, GPXI. Polymorphisms in these genes may indicate an increased risk of complications of diabetes.

People with polymorphisms (non-standard option) in the above genes are most prone to complications and should carefully monitor their blood sugar.

Attention to your health and the implementation of “genetic prevention” measures will help to avoid this disease or minimize its devastating consequences.

Genes that indirectly affect the development of diabetes

In the human body there are many genes in which polymorphisms may not directly affect the development of diabetes, but indirectly increase the likelihood of developing this disease. How it works? We give a simple example. The implementation of diabetes is greatly influenced by human nutrition throughout life. Each product containing carbohydrates has a specific glycemic index. This is an indicator that reflects the rate of conversion of an organism-split product to glucose. The faster the product breaks down and converts to glucose, the higher its glycemic index.

People with diabetes or with a genetic predisposition to it should not eat foods with a high glycemic index, as this causes a sharp jump in blood sugar. Carriers of polymorphism in the FTO gene have an increased tendency to overeat and an inability to control appetite – such a person will most likely eat foods with a high glycemic index. In this case, diabetes mellitus of the second type can develop without a direct genetic predisposition.

By the way, a high glycemic index is not the same as high-calorie and junk food. For example, not only chocolate and pies have a high glycemic index, but also apricots, dates, blueberries, boiled carrots. Now there is a lot of information in free access that reveals the glycemic indices of most known food products in detail, so everyone can begin to control their diet.

It is worth noting that obesity and type 2 diabetes are very closely related. Often hypertension also joins them. Obesity significantly increases the chance of developing diabetes, as well as hypertension. Therefore, having direct or indirect predispositions to diabetes, it is necessary to control weight, as well as carbohydrate intake, maintaining a balance of all other necessary substances (proteins, healthy fats), not forgetting about clean water. It would seem banal recommendations, but already they can help reduce the risk that a person will face diabetes.

Genetics Can Be Bypassed

Genes are the foundation of a house that a person has to build. And on the same foundation, you can build different houses: stable or falling apart. A great influence on the development of diabetes, like many other pathologies, is exerted by a person’s lifestyle, nutrition and his psycho-emotional attitude to his own health and condition.

Even if a particular person has, for example, a genetic predisposition to insulin resistance, a slowed metabolism of carbohydrates, an increased risk of obesity and cardiovascular disease, but at the same time, he eats properly, plays sports, has no bad habits and constantly monitors blood sugar , the level of the hormone insulin and other indicators, then he has every chance to avoid diabetes and live a long active life.


Type 2 diabetes represents a great danger to mankind to a greater extent due to low awareness of this disease, its predisposition to it and its consequences. In this case, early diagnosis and analysis of predisposition to pathology plays a very important role in saving the patient. The sooner a person learns about his genetic risks, the higher his chance to avoid the onset of diabetes and related pathologies.

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