Myths and Facts

Diabetes is not a serious disease.

Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Having diabetes nearly doubles your chance of having a heart attack. The good news is that good diabetes control can reduce your risks for diabetes complications.

Diabetes is caused by eating too much sugar.

Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger its onset; type 2 is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight increases your risk for developing type 2, and a diet high in calories from any source contributes to weight gain. Research has shown that sugary drinks are linked to type 2 diabetes. Learn more.

People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses.

You are no more likely to get sick if you have diabetes. However, an illness can make your diabetes more difficult to control. Learn more.

People with type 1 diabetes can't participate in sports or exercise.

They can be tennis players, mountain climbers, weight lifters, basketball stars, snowboarders – the sky's the limit!

Women with diabetes shouldn't get pregnant.

Women who manage their diabetes well can have a normal pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby. Learn more.

People with diabetes can feel when their blood glucose level goes too low.

Not always. Some people cannot feel or recognize the symptoms of low blood glucose, or hypoglycemia, which can be dangerous. Learn more.

It's possible to have "just a touch" or "a little" diabetes.

There is no such thing. Everyone who has diabetes runs the risk of serious complications. Learn more.

You have to lose a lot of weight for your diabetes to improve.

Losing just 7% of your body weight can offer significant health benefits—about 15 pounds if you weigh 200. Learn more.

Diabetes doesn't run in my family, so I'm safe.

Family history is only one of several risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Learn more.

You'll know if you have diabetes by your symptoms.

Not always. Type 2 diabetes often goes undiagnosed because it usually has few or no symptoms when it first develops. Learn more.

Gestational diabetes doesn't need to be taken seriously, as it will disappear after a woman gives birth.

It puts both mother and child at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Learn more.

People with diabetes can't donate blood.

You're eligible to donate blood as long as your diabetes is well controlled. Learn more.

People who use insulin are unsafe drivers.

The vast majority of drivers who use insulin can safely operate motor vehicles. Learn more.

People with diabetes can't fly airplanes.

Pilots must meet the FAA's medical guidelines—and we're working hard to ensure that they are reasonable and fair. Learn more.

People with diabetes can't get tattoos.

It is considered safe, as long as your diabetes is well controlled.

People with diabetes can't perform certain jobs.

You have rights, and federal laws prohibit discriminations against workers with diabetes. Learn more.

People with type 2 diabetes who need to use insulin are in serious trouble.

Type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease, and most people with it eventually need insulin. By using insulin to keep their diabetes in good control, people with type 2 can often avoid complications and lead a healthy life. Learn more.

People with diabetes need to follow a special diet.

People with diabetes benefit from the same healthy diet that is good for everyone else: plenty of whole grains and fruits and vegetables, with a limited amount of fat and refined sugar. Learn more.