A reader wants to know: Does the risk of Type 2 diabetes go up after 50?

Dr. Zachary Levine answers: Yes, the risk of Type 2 diabetes increases with age, especially after 50. Close to three million Canadians have it, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association and is serious, as it can result in heart, kidney, eye and nerve damage.

In Type 2, usually diagnosed in adulthood, the body cannot produce enough insulin or the cells cannot effectively use the insulin to take in the glucose and use it as fuel. Some of the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes are beyond our control, such as race, age and family history (see “Risk Factors” below). That said, there are effective ways in which we can reduce our risk of diabetes, namely diet and exercise. Speak to your doctor or nutritionist about specific dietary counselling.

Blood glucose (sugar) control is one of the most important aspects of diabetes control. White carbs; bread, pasta, rice (and sugar) cause faster spikes in blood glucose, which is not healthy (for anyone, especially people with diabetes). They also lack many of the healthy vitamins, minerals, and fibre contained in less processed carbohydrates, so start by eating more whole grains and fibre as well as more fruits and vegetables.

Type 2 diabetes risk factors

-Being overweight, especially around the abdomen

-Physical inactivity

-Race: blacks, Hispanics, natives and people of southern Asian heritage are at higher risk

-Family history: risk goes up if a parent or sibling has it

-Pre-diabetes (also known as impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance): when one’s blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes, you’re at high risk for developing diabetes

-Having a history of gestational diabetes

-Having high blood pressure

  • Having high cholesterol

Dr. Zachary Levine is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University Health Centre and medical correspondent for AM 740 (a ZoomerMedia property).