When it comes to the rising prevalence of Type 2 diabetes, there are many factors to blame.
Diet and exercise sit somewhere at the top of the list. But the genes that some of us inherit from Mom and Dad also help determine whether we develop the disease, and how early it crops up.
Now an international team of scientists have identified mutations in a gene that suggests an explanation for why Latinos are almost twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes as Caucasians and African-Americans.
But here’s the kicker: You have to go further back on the family tree than your parents to find who’s to blame for this genetic link to diabetes. Think thousands of generations ago.
"As far as I know, this is the first time a version of a gene from Neanderthal has been connected to a modern-day disease," Altshuler tells Shots. He and his colleagues report the findings Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Photograph: The skull of modern-day humans (left) is smaller than that of Neanderthals (right). (DrMikeBaxter/Wikimedia.org)