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Minority Womens' Health: Latinas and Diabetes

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Diabetes is a disease that causes blood sugar levels to be too high. Over time high blood sugar levels can hurt many parts of your body, such as your skin, mouth, kidneys, heart, nerves, eyes, and feet. It can even cause death.

Type 2 diabetes — the most common type of diabetes — affects about 1 in 10 Latinos. Within this group, Mexican-Americans are the most affected. Latinas are 17 times more likely to die from diabetes than non-Hispanic white women.

You can't control some risk factors for type 2 diabetes, such as your age, race, or family history. But you can prevent or delay developing type 2 diabetes by taking these steps:

- Maintain a healthy weight. Calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI) to see if you're at a healthy weight.

- Eat low-fat, well-balanced meals.

- Make physical activity a habit. Health benefits are gained by doing the following each week:

2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity

-- 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity

-- A combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity

-- Muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days of the week

- Limit alcohol to no more than one drink per day.

You could have type 2 diabetes and not know it. Type 2 diabetes sometimes has no warning signs. Talk to your doctor about diabetes in your family. Get your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels checked regularly, as advised by your doctor. If you find out you have diabetes, you can take steps to manage the disease and live a full and active life. Making healthy eating and physical activity a regular part of your family life also will help to lower your loved ones' risk of diabetes.

There are other forms of diabetes:

- Gestational diabetes is too high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Latinas have higher rates than non-Hispanic white women. Gestational diabetes usually goes away after pregnancy. But you are at higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes later in life.

- Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys insulin-making cells. It is far less common than type 2 and often starts in childhood. There is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes.

More resources on minority women's health

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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