DiabetesDiabetes Causes

Let's Talk About the Causes of Diabetes

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about this disease, including where it comes from, who gets it, and why. Let’s take a closer look.

    Our Pro PanelDiabetes Causes

    We went to some of the nation’s top experts in diabetes to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Nilem Patel M.D, headshot.

    Nilem Patel, M.D.Endocrinologist

    Adventist Health White Memorial Hospital
    Los Angeles, CA
    Stelios Mantis, M.D.

    Stelios Mantis, M.D.Pediatric Endocrinologist

    Rush University Medical Center
    Chicago, IL
    Katherine Araque, M.D.

    Katherine Araque, M.D.Director of Endocrinology

    Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center
    Santa Monica, CA

    Frequently Asked QuestionsDiabetes Causes

    Is diabetes hereditary?

    Like many chronic illnesses, your genes can make you more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes. But having a family history of the illness doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get it. A healthful diet and exercise can lower your risk for the disease.

    How can I prevent diabetes?

    Unfortunately, Type 1 diabetes isn’t preventable. With type 2 and gestational diabetes, though, you can decrease your odds of getting the disease by reducing the amount of high-sugar foods in your diet, following a consistent exercise routine, and not smoking.

    I’m 30 years old. Can I stop worrying about getting diabetes?

    Unfortunately, no. You might be thinking about “juvenile diabetes,” a name often used for type 1 diabetes that typically develops in childhood. But it can be diagnosed well into your 30s. And type 2 diabetes can be developed at any age—in fact, it’s more common after age 45.

    Does eating sugar cause diabetes?

    No, not directly. But it makes sense that if diabetes is caused by an excess of sugar in your blood, it’s not the greatest idea to consume a ton of high-sugar foods, since this will only raise your blood sugar levels. Also, limit yourself to two alcoholic drinks a day if you’re a guy or one a day if you’re a woman, since these beverages are also high in sugar.

    Sunny Sea Gold

    Sunny Sea Gold


    Sunny is a health journalist, book author, and essayist living in Portland, OR.