Five surprising things that might increase your diabetes risk

Early menopause, taking stains, sleep apnoea and more...

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Most of us know that not exercising enough and carrying too much weight are the main risk factors for type 2 diabetes, but you might be surprised at some of the other things that can make you more likely to develop the disease...

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1. Having a partner with diabetes
It's well established that having a history of diabetes in the family can be a risk factor, but did you know that your own risk can be higher if your significant other has the illness?

This is down to correlation rather than causation. In other words, if you live with someone with poor habits concerning diet and exercise you are likely to have the same kind of lifestyle.

If you partner is diagnosed with the illness then take a look at his or her lifestyle, compare it to your own and consider where there might be room for improvement.

2. Early menopause
Research carried out in the Netherlands found that women who experience the menopause before they hit 40 are more likely to suffer type 2 diabetes than those who went through it after 55.

There was a strong link – with the early menopause women being 32 per cent more likely to develop diabetes – but the reasons involved are not yet understood.
One theory is that those who go through the menopause later have more oestrogen in their bodies in the years from 40 to 55, which helps protect them against the disease.

- How the menopause affects your weight

3. Statin medications
It has been demonstrated by UK researchers that people taking statin drugs to control their cholesterol levels are 14 per cent more likely to suffer from diabetes.

The research has been corroborated by other studies, and doctors suspect that the medicine could be the final straw for some patients with other risk factors.

However it is widely felt that the benefits of statins outweigh the risks – and those on the drugs who have a clear risk from cholesterol are advised to address other risk factors first.

- Statins 'may not cut heart attack risk in some patients'

4. Sleep apnoea
Sleep apnoea is a condition which sees sufferers' sleep patterns disrupted by breathing problems – and recent research has established a link with diabetes.

Scientists at Shanghai Jiao Tong in China found a correlation whereby those with the worst sleep apnoea symptoms also had the worst control over their blood sugar levels.

Anyone who suspects they may suffer from sleep apnoea is advised to see their GP for assessment and potential treatment.

- Could you have obstructive sleep apnoea?

5. Breast cancer
Diabetes has been shown to be higher among women who suffer from breast cancer and who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.

Around 6,000 women with the gene were screened and found to have no increased risk before their cancer, but after developing cancer they were twice as likely to develop diabetes as well within the next 15 years. Another study has linked the breast cancer drug tamoxifen to an increased risk of diabetes, but there is still more work to be done on causation.

It is possible that breast cancer and diabetes have shared risk factors such as obesity and insulin resistance – although the drugs used to treat cancer may also play a role.

- Breast cancer isn't always a lump: seven less-obvious signs to watch for

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