African Americans have 50 percent higher risk of developing diabetes

Are you one of the millions of Americans who has diabetes or knows someone who does? Chances are high that you do. According to a 2014 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 29 million Americans have diabetes—but one in four doesn’t know it. More than one in three adults has higher-than-normal blood sugar levels. Researchers are working hard to understand why so many people have diabetes and what can be done to prevent it.
Diabetes is a disease marked by too-high blood glucose (sugar) levels. The food we eat turns into sugar. Our bodies use that sugar for energy. The pancreas produces a hormone called insulin. Insulin unlocks glucose from cells in our bodies. Diabetes is caused when the pancreas either does not make enough insulin or when the body can’t use the insulin that is made.  Not having enough insulin causes glucose to build up in the blood. Having too much glucose in the blood can lead to health problems. The health risks associated with diabetes can be severe. They include heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, stroke and loss of toes, feet or legs.
There are different kinds of diabetes—type 1 and type 2. People with type 1 diabetes don’t make any insulin and usually show symptoms of diabetes when they’re young. There is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes. Researchers think that type 1 diabetes may be triggered by something that goes wrong in the body’s autoimmune system (the way a body defends itself from illnesses). Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body cannot use insulin properly. In the past, type 2 diabetes was usually diagnosed in people in their 50s and up. Now, health care providers are finding younger people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

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