Some people are born with diabetes. Others bring on the condition by making certain lifestyle choices, and a new 11-year study of more than 200,000 men and women between the ages of 50 and 71 highlights five in particular.
Want to boost your risk for diabetes? Let yourself become overweight or obese. The study showed that being even a bit overweight raises the risk for diabetes. Carrying extra weight boosts diabetes risk by causing inflammation throughout the body and by reducing cells' sensitivity to insulin as well as the production of insulin.
"Eventually, the pancreas just can't keep up with the demand for insulin," study author Dr. Jared Reis, an epidemiologist at the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, told CBS News.
Smoking cigarettes is a great way to boost your diabetes risk. The chemicals in tobacco smoke cause inflammation and apparently have a toxic effect on the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
Don't want diabetes? Don't start smoking. If you do smoke, quit. Evidence suggests that at some point after smokers kick the habit, their diabetes risk drops to normal levels, Dr. Reis told CBS News.
Mistake: Avoid exercise
Being sedentary is a great way to boost your risk for diabetes. The study showed that all you have to do is get less than 20 minutes of sweat-producing exercise on three or four days of the week. On the other hand, the study showed that if you get that much exercise or more, you'll be reducing your diabetes risk.
Mistake: Eat with abandon
Sure, you could eat healthfully - emphasizing fruits and veggies while limiting your consumption of fatty food and desserts. But that's not going to boost your diabetes risk.
Mistake: Drink heavily
Current guidelines call for people to women to have no more than one alcoholic beverage a day, men no more than two. But you can boost your risk for all sorts of ills, including diabetes, if you drink more than that.
Actually, the study showed a heightened risk for diabetes among both heavy drinkers and teetotalers. "I certainly am not promoting drinking alcohol for reducing diabetes risk," Dr. Reis told CBS News. "But there does seem to be a bit of a sweet spot. If you do not have any contraindications to alcohol use, modest drinking may be beneficial."