Dr. James R. Gavin Discusses High Rate Of Diabetes In Blacks

BDO: Why Do We See Such Higher Risks Of Diabetes In African-American?

Dr. Gavin: The reason why we see such high prevalence rates of diabetes in African-Americans as one ethnic group is because, quite frankly, we have a greater genetic burden of risk and that risk runs at different levels across populations.

American Indians for example, in our population, in our country have the highest risk for diabetes. We share a lot of genetic background with American Indians. Latinos in this country have high risk.

Latinos also share a lot of genetic background with American Indians. So the genetic risk is the undercurrent but it’s the environment that changes in a way that allows that risk to be expressed as disease.

We always say that genetics may load the gun but it’s the environment that pulls the trigger; that’s why we have to be so conscious about, what is our family background? Who had what in terms of health history in our background? And therefore we’ll know what to do to protect ourselves and what to look out for as we get older