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Assess your risk of developing diabetes

You could be one of the 1.5 million Canadians who have diabetes and don’t know it. It's important to know the risk factors and get checked.

Risk factors for type 1 diabetes

Only 10% of people with diabetes have type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes. Having a parent or sibling with type 1 diabetes slightly increases your risk of having type 1.

Researchers suspect that our genes and our environment play a role, but studies are still under way.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes

You can have type 2 diabetes without any obvious warning signs or symptoms. If you think you might be at risk for developing diabetes, don't ignore these risk factors. The earlier you're diagnosed, the sooner you can take action to stay well—now and in the future.

Some diabetes risk factors can be managed or reduced, while other factors may be beyond your control. For example, you have a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes if you are over the age of 40 or if you have a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes. Your ethnic background is also a factor: being of African, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, Indigenous, or South Asian descent can increase your risk of living with type 2 diabetes.

Having any of the following conditions increases your chances of developing diabetes:

  • high blood pressure
  • high levels of cholesterol or other fats in the blood
  • a high BMI or are overweight (especially if that weight is mostly carried around the tummy)
  • prediabetes (impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
  • psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder)
  • obstructive sleep apnea 
  • darkened patches of skin called acanthosis nigricans

Lastly, if you have been prescribed a glucocorticoid medication by a doctor, you will also have an increased risk.

Get tested

Anyone over the age of 40 should be tested for diabetes every three years. If you have one or more risk factors, you should be tested earlier and more frequently.

Assess your risk

Take our CANRISK test to know your risk. It will take two minutes or less.

If you already have type 2 diabetes, your children, brothers and sisters are at risk. Urge them to be tested for diabetes.

Risks for gestational diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy. Three to 20 per cent of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes, depending on their risk factors. 

All pregnant women should be screened for gestational diabetes between 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. Women who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes should be screened before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

You're more likely to develop gestational diabetes if you:

  • are 35 years of age or older
  • are from a high-risk group (African, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, Indigenous, or South Asian descent)
  • use corticosteroid medication
  • gave birth to a baby that weighed more than four kilograms (nine pounds)
  • are overwieght obesity (BMI of 30kg/m2 or higher before pregnancy)
  • have prediabetes
  • had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • have a parent, brother or sister with type 2 diabetes
  • have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or acanthosis nigricans (darkened patches of skin)

Having gestational diabetes may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes for both mother and child.

Learn more about diabetes

While you can't control risk factors for diabetes like age and ethnic background, you can control other risk factors like weight, physical activity, diet, and smoking. These links can help you recognize and reduce your risk of developing diabetes.

Contact us for support

For more information, support and to help you find diabetes services in your area.

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