Question: Which type of diabetes is more likely to be inherited and why?
Answer: Type 1 diabetes typically occurs in childhood, while type 2 diabetes usually develops in adults. However, some adults develop a form of diabetes that looks very similar to type 1 diabetes, and now with the huge increase in obesity, many children and adolescents are getting type 2 diabetes.
Now, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes have a genetic component; that means of course, that they tend to run in families. However, we often regard diseases that develop in childhood as being more likely to be due to genetics. But this is not the case for diabetes, and in fact, studies show that type 2, which mostly commonly develops in adulthood, seems to have a greater genetic basis than the childhood form of type 1 diabetes. For example, as you know, identical twins share 100 percent of their genetic material; however, if one twin has type 1 diabetes, the chance of that the other twin will develop it is only 10 to 20 percent. In contrast, if one twin has type 2, or the adult form of diabetes, the other twin has up to a 90 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
In type 2 diabetes, we know that overeating and lack of physical activity are very important contributors. Meanwhile, for type 1 diabetes, it's more the exposure to toxins in the environment, possibly viruses, and other external factors that can increase risk to this form of diabetes.