You could be one of the many Canadians who have diabetes and don’t know it.

What are the risk factors for type 1 diabetes?

Researchers continue to work hard to find out what causes type 1 diabetes. It is known that having a family member (parent, sibling) with type 1 diabetes slightly increases the risk; however, definite risk factors are currently not known.

What are the risk factors for type 2 diabetes?

Anyone over the age of 40 should be tested for diabetes every three years. Anyone who has one or more risk factors should be tested more frequently and/or start regular screening earlier. Risk factors are:

  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes;
  • Being a member of a high-risk group (African, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, Indigenous, or South Asian descent; low socioeconomic status);
  • Having health complications that are associated with diabetes;
  • Having given birth to a baby that weighed more than four kilograms (nine pounds) at birth or having had gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy);
  • Having been diagnosed with prediabetes (impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose);
  • Having high blood pressure;
  • Having high cholesterol or other fats in the blood;
  • Being overweight, especially if that weight is mostly carried around the tummy;
  • Having been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome;
  • Having been diagnosed with Acanthosis nigricans (darkened patches of skin);
  • Having been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders: schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder;
  • Having been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea;
  • Having been prescribed a glucocorticoid medication by a doctor.

Don't ignore these risk factors. If you think you might be at risk for developing diabetes, complete the Canadian Diabetes Risk Questionnaire (CANRISK).

The earlier you are diagnosed, the sooner you can take action to stay well – now and in the future. If you already have type 2 diabetes, your children, brothers and sisters are at risk. Urge them to be tested for diabetes.

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