• Bowie Matteson

The Genetic Fallacy of Type I Diabetes

The CDC states that Type I diabetes is thought to be an autoimmune reaction destroying the cells in the pancreas responsible for creating insulin.


They state this process can go on for months or years before any symptoms appear.


Some genes, they say, make one more prone to develop the disease, but that those genes don’t guarantee it will. They are adamant that diet and lifestyle don’t cause Type I diabetes.


I think it’s ironic that conditions that have a direct impact on the state of your diet and lifestyle (diabetics need to be mindful of carbs, those with celiac need to be mindful of wheat content) are believed to have no relation to the development of that condition.


The idea of genetic determinism is flawed for diabetics. Newly diagnosed diabetics are told that their condition is genetic and that there is no known cure and that they should get on with it. The medical community fails to acknowledge that both genes and the cellular environment are inherited, and that environmental conditions absolutely play a part in genetic expression.


Think about radioactive exposure, or carcinogenic properties of things like tobacco or alcohol. If you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day for 10 years, the chances of you getting cancer increases significantly. Would you look at your genes after those 10 years and think “Well look at these genes I have, I should never have smoked”? Of course not.


Does someone with a genetic predisposition, perhaps a mutation in cancer suppressing genes, have a greater chance of getting cancer? Yes. What that a young pre-diabetic does is equivalent to smoking cigarettes, or putting their head in the microwave, or standing out in the sun too long, that’s pushing those “diabetes genes” to be expressed?


I think the genetic fate of Type I diabetics is much more wrapped up in their inherited cellular environments and how they are actively nourishing or malnourishing that environment in their lifetime. I don't want to hear "well the gene is there so tough luck”.


What do you think? Are you the result of your genetic make-up or a product of the environment your genes live in?


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