4 diabetics in my family. Am I doomed?

In the past 20 years, 4 people in my family have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes: Both my grandfathers, my aunt on my dad’s side, and my uncle on my mom’s side. All these people were/are within the healthy BMI range and live healthy lifestyles (my dad’s dad was vegan for many years). My dad’s side of the family has Native blood, which I’ve heard is prone to diabetes for some reason. All were diagnosed after age 50.

I’m 29, 5’3", 122lbs, do cardio and strength training exercises 5 days a week, and limit sugars and fats in my diet. Will any of these precautions matter, or is my pancreas set to fail at some point in my life no matter what I do? I get annual physicals, my last one being about a month ago, and my doc said my sugars look great. I’m still worried that I’m genetically marked to be diabetic, since these family members didn’t end up with it due to lifestyle.

Well with precautionary exercise and healthy living and watching what you eat, you can try to delay the onset of diabetes even if you are genetically predispositioned for it. So even if you are “doomed” as you say, you can still try to delay it’s onset by staying healthy.

Type 2 diabetes has a strong hereditary component - endocrineweb says

Nothing like this is certain, however - you aren’t necessarily doomed, and even if you are prone to developing it, a healthy, low-weight lifestyle will both increase the time before it does happen, and greatly reduce the symptoms and negative effects.

And be thankful it’s not Type 1 you’re facing. Type 2 sucks, but Type 1 REALLY sucks.

Use Cinnamon liberally on your food.

I know it sounds drool, but Cinnamon is KNOWN for stabilizing blood sugar which will help if you if you are predisposed to diabetes. It also helps with a few other things which I cannot recall at the moment. No more junk food. Eat healthy.

Mark

No, you’re not doomed. My paternal grandfather died of diabetes at 63. My father died with it (of heart disease, part of the “metabolic syndrome”) at 69. My son, who is 44, has been diabetic for about 6 years. I also have diabetic cousins.

I, however, am not (yet) diabetic, and I’m in my mid-60s. I try to be moderate about my diet, but I also take alpha lipoic acid and evening primrose oil daily (recommended by Dr. Bernstein, “the” diabetes doctor, who is a type 1 diabetic himself, and wrote a very good book about it, which he has revised several times). Those two supplements, taken together, are supposed to help insulin function optimally in your body, so that you don’t become resistant to your own insulin (one of the nasty things that promote the downward health spiral in diabetics. I do have an A1c test annually, just as a check on things. Thus far, the results have come back normal.

As mbedell mentioned, cinnamon is supposed to be helpful. There are other supplements that are also recommended by various people/groups. But, AFAIK, the α Lipoic Acid and evening primrose oil are the only supplements that Dr. Bernstein has recommended. You can probably get a copy of his book from the library, if you don’t want to buy one. That recommendation is not in the earlier editions. I first saw it in an article by him published at least 4 years ago in U.S. News & World Report.

The healthy lifestyle you are living is certainly worth the effort to avoid diabetes for as long as possible. My hub was an undiagnosed Diabetic for probably 8 years before he realized that there was a problem. He has terrible foot pain from nerve damage (Neuropathy). I imagine that he might have avoided living in so much pain every day if he’d known about his condition. The docs have told him that the only way to remove the pain is to remove the feet. Diabetes is bad enough; Neuropathy really bites.

It looks like the effectiveness of cinnamon hasn’t been confirmed; a study in Pakistan on 60 people indicated it worked, but nobody has been able to replicate the results. The Pakistan study indicated that one gram of cinnamon a day seemed to help. How much cinnamon that is, I’m not sure. Care should be taken to not annihilate your diet in order to get the cinnamon, though… try cinnamon tea rather than cinnamon rolls.

I agree that your current diet and health regimen are your best defense against it, but there is no known way to prevent diabetes. One of the current theories as to why it runs in families is that some familes are predisposed to an infection that attaches itself to the Islet of Langerhans, the outlet ports on the surface of the pancreas which exude insulin. The body develops antibodies to this infection which go out and kill the disease germs and damage the body’s ability to produce insulin in the process, kind of like destroying the village in order to save it.

So, excercise, eat well, and make those two things a core part of your life, and you’ll likely be healthier longer than if you don’t.

It looks like the effectiveness of cinnamon hasn’t been confirmed; a study in Pakistan on 60 people indicated it worked, but nobody has been able to replicate the results

My question would be what was the sample size? Was it a double blind study? What were the controls? How long was the expirement? What specific type of cinnamon?

You see where I am going here, right? I am sure if you di a in depth Google search you will find more recent studies. All nutritionalists tout the benefits of Cinnamon.

I would DEFINATELY take Alpha Lopic Acid. The more I read about it the more I understand how very powerful it is. The list of benefits go on, and on, and on…

The native component is related to studies of Pima indians. Here’s a link.

In regards to the posts about cinnamon - beware that most cinnamon sold in American supermarkets as “cinnamon” is in fact not “true”, cinnamon (i.e. ceylon cinnamon). It is instead a cousin of cinnamon called cassia. Cassia, unfortunately, does not appear to have the same glucose-regulating properties as true ceylon cinnamon. In fact, cassia has a compound that is potentially harmful in even small quantities, called coumarin. Some European health agencies have issued health advisory warnings about the compound. The FDA has banned coumarin as a food additive, but yet cassia is still sold widely in the U.S., I suppose since in this case the coumarin is an integral component of the spice, and not simply an additive. The Wiki link indicates that only 1 teaspoon of cassia cinnamon powder could be above the tolerable daily limit for most individuals. Frankly, I’m worried about this myself, but I still mix in at least 1 tsp of the stuff into my morning oatmeal because I love the flavor so much.

Cite: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamon#Cinnamon_and_cassia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coumarin#Toxicity_and_use_in_foods.2C_beverages.2C_tobacco.2C_and_cosmetics

*In regards to the posts about cinnamon - beware that most cinnamon sold in American supermarkets as “cinnamon” is in fact not “true”, cinnamon *

Most definately. Most of the food products that you find at your supermarket is garbage. You would probbaly have to go to WholeFoods or Wegmans t find “real” Cinnamon.

Dr. Bernstein was very specific about taking the alpha lipoic acid and evening primrose oil together. I experimented a bit when I first began taking them with the ratio between the two, and concluded that 100 mg of ALA works very well for me with 500 mg of EPO. If I have sweets on a given day, I double my “dose” to 200 mg & 1000 mg.

And, as I said above, my scores on the annual A1c tests have remained normal and stable. I think anybody who is diabetic - and anybody who has reason to believe they’re vulnerable - should try it. I also recommend reading Dr. Bernstein’s book. No, I don’t do the rigid diet & exercise thing he recommends, but if I ever do turn diabetic, I will most definitely start being more religious about both. I’ve seen all of the awful things that diabetes does to some of its victims - including blindness, kidney failure, amputations, and all the other stuff. I have enough health problems, thanks. I’m not volunteering for any of that!

Here’s the study (free and fulltext). Take an objective look at it and it’s perhaps not too surprising that the results havn’t been replicated. Off the top of my head, and in the first five minutes of perusal, here are some problems and/or potential problems I spotted:

  1. Nowhere does it say that subjects were randomized. Instead, “subjects were selected”. How and why were they allocated into the various groups? Did the authors put the patients they felt most likely to respond equally into all groups?

  2. There were already significant differences at start of study between placebo and cinnamon groups in terms of glucose levels.

  3. Why 60 subjects? Why not 59, 61, or 648? Did they stop enroling patients when the results looked good? Why was the number of subjects not prespecified?

  4. Apparently, there was no blinding of physicians. If so, who knows what unconscious bias and resulting interventions may have occurred. Likewise, it’s not stated whether patients could determine (? by smell or taste) if they were on active treatment. Again, the potential effect of bias is huge.

  5. The ‘p’ values are minimally convincing at 0.05. BUT, dozens of comparisons were made without taking into account the effect of multiple testing. As a minimum in such circumstances, one should have more convincing ‘p’ values, say 0.01 or, even better, 0.005.

  6. The results are physiologically strange (possibly because of a “too good to be true” bias. Specifically, LDL levels went down in the cinnamon group despite the fact that triglycerides declined and (presumably) insulin sensitivity increased - with the latter two changes likely to raise LDL in this type of patient.

Who knows what else I could find if I spent another five minutes.

Finally, when results are novel and of great potential application, like these, you can bet that many other groups would have tried to duplicate and then extend them. Despite this study having been published five years ago, we find no such results in subsequent studies (and not too many studies generally in the area, as if no one really really believed the results from the start). IMHO, absence of confirmatory research strongly implies that the initial study was crap.

I am not a aware of studies that show a healthier diet now and exercise now will somehow prevent the expression of a gene you are carrying, or be protective of your endocrine function in later life. This is not to say such a notion is incorrect, however.

Since both diet and activity level seem to benefit Type 2 patients, at least you are establishing a lifestyle habit now which will be easier to maintain later. Stick to activity that doesn’t trash your joints so that you’ll still be able to exercise when you are geezed like me.

I might suggest that DM Type 2 is not that big a deal compared to other bad genes you might be carrying, and probably not worth worrying about at age 30. You can’t change your genes and you are already practicing the appropriate amelioration. You probably won’t have to worry too much about your sugar metabolism for another 20 years, and perhaps by then we’ll have made even more medical progress in dealing with it.

Do what you are doing, except the worry part.

I am not a aware of studies that show a healthier diet now and exercise now will somehow prevent the expression of a gene you are carrying, or be protective of your endocrine function in later life. This is not to say such a notion is incorrect, however.

Since both diet and activity level seem to benefit Type 2 patients, at least you are establishing a lifestyle habit now which will be easier to maintain later. Stick to activity that doesn’t trash your joints so that you’ll still be able to exercise when you are geezed like me.

I might suggest that DM Type 2 is not that big a deal compared to other bad genes you might be carrying, and probably not worth worrying about at age 30. You can’t change your genes and you are already practicing the appropriate amelioration. You probably won’t have to worry too much about your sugar metabolism for another 20 years, and perhaps by then we’ll have made even more medical progress in dealing with it.

Do what you are doing, except the worry part.

Amazon Floozy Goddess, I’m in basically the same position. 30 years old, healthy weight, healthy diet, but both of my parents and two of my grandparents have Type 2 diabetes. I don’t know if you’re planning on having kids, but you should be aware that because of your family history, you’re at increased risk for gestational diabetes should you become pregnant. It’s usually controllable through diet and exercise, but it can definitely effect you and the baby if you don’t stay on top of it. (And it’s no fun, as I can personally attest.)

I have done ALOT of reasearch on Alpha Lopic Acid so I consider myself knowledgable. Alpha Lopic Acid should be taken with N- Acetyl Carnitine. They work synergistically with each other.

No offense, but: I am merely citing what Dr. Bernstein - an internationally recognized authority on diabetes, and the control of it - recommended. There are also other websites which make the same recommendation. It works for me.

BTW, it’s LIPOIC, not lopic. There ain’t no such animal as alpha lopic acid. Don’t believe me? Try to google it.

Also take into account that even if you do end up having diabetes, it can be something which has very little impact on your life.

My mother’s GP (who also happens to be my SiL) had been after diagnosing Mom for diabetes for more than five years by the time she was able to stick the label on. Mom’s sugar has always tested fine; what finally made Doc happy was a high value for glycohemoglobin. She says that Mom’s diabetes is “diet-controlled:” Mom’s dietary habits were good enough to keep the sugar inside normal ranges so long as she didn’t go to any parties or splurge on the bananas. Doc did give Mom some pills (sorry I don’t know the composition), as the high gH says the sugar isn’t always under control, but mostly what she’s supposed to do is keep eating right.

We don’t have any other diabetics in the family, Mom’s diabetes may be linked to having been on 3-5g of paracetamol daily for 25 years, as one of the secondary effects of paracetamol is that it can be damaging for the pancreas, the organ which produces insulin.

As far as I am aware, the only link between paracetamol (acetaminophen) and diabetes is that paracetamol may have some protective effect against the development of diabetes. Here is one cite. Here is another (from the same, albeit reputable, research group).