Is It Genetics or Environment or Both?

By Katsarecool Latest Reply 2012-02-26 11:31:16 -0600
Started 2010-07-06 08:23:58 -0500

I have questioned this for awhile now regarding diabetes and other health issues.

Isn't there a component of genetics in heart disease? And yet, if I had known when I was a kid that people in my family had heart disease and took actions back then to eat right, exercise, avoid stress, etc. would I then still had a heart attack?

I had indications of diabetes when I was pregnant with my second child. If I had been informed back then and made necessary changes to my life such as the same mentioned above would I have or could I have avoided diabetes?

Can one have diabetes without any known family history? Could the same be said of so many other "genetic" illnesses?

I tend to think it is a combination of both factors involved. I think many diseases could be avoided if people learn very early of the possibilities and make the necessary changes to their lifestyles to avoid them.

When I was growing up proper diet was rarely discussed nor the benefits of exercise either. It was talked about but not like it is today. I think if I had known I would have done a better job of it.

I am not taking any chances with my kids or grandchildren either as there is too much at stake. I have spoken to my kids but more importantly to my grandchildren about what is important to do to avoid these situations. I already see in them that they are eating poorly and not getting much exercise at all. I hope they learn from my mistakes and decide to make better choices in their lives.

So what do you think about genetics vs environment or is it both? And if changes can be made early can many of the diseases we are faced with be avoided by the next generation?


Nancy Ann

PS Food for thought though no pun intended.

6 replies

IvLyGa70 2012-02-26 11:31:16 -0600 Report

Thanks to everyone for sharing…
I am a firm believer that genetics is the basis of my diabetes! I was first diagnosed at the age of 30. I was a training maraton runner, about 125lbs, never sedentary and child free. I obviously was not your "typical" diabetic, as my primary care physician use to call me "the healthiest Type II diabetic" he'd ever seen.

My background was childhood was filled with little stress, lots of healthy foods and plenty of activity. This all stemmed from parents that were raised during the depression on a farm with plenty of family & friends around. So, junkfood, support and activity was never an issue during my childhood.

Unfortunately, after becoming an adult my lifestyle changed. One foot surgery, two children as a single parent, and a stressful career leads me to fight the diabetic fight daily. I don't feel like I'm winning, however, as my diabetics is currently spinning out of control due to stress and often times poor eating habits. I guess my only plus is not being sedentary.

So, I guess, my only advise for diabetics with a similar underlying issue, genetics, is to do as much to improve your environment. And to be sure and have a skilled healthcare provide to help you achieve good diabetic health. Unfortunately, I'm still looking for the latter. Wish me luck!

dubyadd 2012-02-25 23:05:08 -0600 Report

Many studies have been done on twins separated at birth to see if they remain the same as twins would be if raised together. Is genetic or environmental factors to blame for any differences. I wonder if any have been done for diabetes???
Personally my father, his mother and father and 3 of 4 siblings including myself all have T2. That to me is a strong vote for genetics. But part of that I believe is environmental.
My father grew up during the depression in the 1930's, where just getting something to eat was difficult. White bread and boiled potatoes was a common meal. When he became successful in the 1950's he bought everything he did not have during his youth. We had a separate cabinet just for cookies, cakes, chips and pasties that was available to all of us anytime. And it was kept well stocked. We had a bakery company truck deliver twice per week and a soda distributor came every 2 weeks to bring cases of soda ( no diet soda back then) and beer. We even had a separate refrigerator in the garage to keep it all cold and a stack of cases on the floor to refill it with. I was the only one to drink no fat ( it was called skim milk then) milk, but I was made fun of so much by my brother and sisters and even my parents that I went back to drinking whole milk like everybody else.
With this back ground growing up , is it any wonder that today I have T2 and my triglycerides were over 900 when last checked. This even though I have been on a very low fat, low carb, low calorie diet for the last 10 years.
I await the genetic code that will switch off my diabetes and restarts my beta cells to produce more and better insulin.

MAYS 2010-07-06 12:02:36 -0500 Report

Well written (kdroberts), so much research has been done and much more is needed to even begin to narrow it down to a simple science.
My concern is this, until the gene can be identified and isolated, diabetes can possibly develop into something (genetically) a lot worse than what we currently have due to mating and genealogy.

It's all very interesting, unfortunately, we are only seeing the tip of this enormous iceberg, research, coupled with our feedback, interest and enthusiasm, can only help in this matter.
Keep informed, inform others and keep your doctors appointments, our contributions will help others in the future.


kdroberts 2010-07-06 10:51:55 -0500 Report

The general thinking is that for diabetes genetics are the root and some sort of environmental factor tips the scale. The genes are not completely know and neither are the environmental factors though. With each generation the "defective" genes spread more and more so the chances of health problems form them increase regardless of environmental factors. There is even data that suggests what your mother did and ate during pregnancy contributes to your chances of diabetes.

monkeymama 2010-07-06 10:01:26 -0500 Report

Hello there Nancy! This coming from experience, knowledge, and personal. There is a genetic aspect that can involve developing diabetes. There are certain diseases (like my kids) that could put one at risk. There is also medication, environmental, and other ways. So, in response to your question, yes I believe it CAN be BOTH. Though I have to caution you on something. Taking all the great preventive measures is all around great thing; no matter what. A person can still do EVERYTHING right and develop diabetes. By not eating right, only poses a risk and contributor not the cause of. I hope this help you and no pun taken here.

Katsarecool 2010-07-06 22:54:12 -0500 Report

Hi MM: Well preventative measures unfortunately were not taken back then and here I am with a host of health problems. That being said; I have made huge changes involving eating healthy, exercise, seeking moral support and advice, re-connecting to ole friends and learning to control stress levels. There is much left to do still.

Now, I want to help my kids and grandkids to educate them, help them to educate themselves about what changes they could make to avoid my pitfalls in life. One daughter is right on target though she and hubby are fantastic cooks and use healthy ingredients, exercise a lot. But their oldest son (I love him more than anything) is a computer gamer slug, over weight and does not exercise at all. I have a few other grandchildren who think eating a bag of cheeze doodles is a meal. Those are grandmas targets. LOL

Thanks for all the great information here and it is so helpful.


Nancy Ann

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