New research adds more credence to the theory that genetics plays a significant role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Once attributed solely to unhealthy lifestyle habits - bad diet and little to no exercise - this new study has found that a genetic variation may also determine who develops type 2 diabetes and who doesn't.

The study was conducted in Greenland - which has seen a recent surge in diabetes cases thanks - in part - to lifestyle changes that have moved the isolated population away from its traditional norm of hunting and fishing towards more sedentary pursuits.  

A team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen screened 2,575 Greenland residents and found a genetic mutation called TBC1D4 present in 17 percent of the population. This particular mutation inhibits the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels after eating.  Researchers think that it is the presence of this gene - combined with unhealthy lifestyle habits - that has led to the rapid increase in diabetes among Greenlanders.

In fact, this genetic variation increased the likelihood of participants developing diabetes by up to ten times.

So what does this mean for the rest of us?  Well, this research is obviously just in its initial stages.  But it could mean that doctors will soon be able to test for the probability of diabetes before a person develops it.  And that could help patients take better control of their health for the future.

This study was published in a recent issue of Nature.

Related posts on MNN:

Gene variant raises diabetes risk tenfold
Researchers isolate a gene mutation that might give a strong indication on whether or not a person will develop type 2 diabetes.