Does Diabetes Raise Your Risk of Cancer?

Diabetes and Cancer:  Are Diabetes Risk Factors and Treatments Linked to Cancer?
We begin this week’s headlines with news from the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association which has published a review of literature that suggests that diabetes risk factors and treatments may be associated with cancer.

A consensus conference in 2009 was convened to examine these relationships. The report defines factors that can be found in cancer and diabetes as well as risks from treatment. The authors addressed both gaps in current information and therefore areas of needed research.  The authors also gave their recommendations.

What they came up with are the following:

  • Primarily, type 2 diabetes comes with a risk for the following cancers: liver, pancreatic, endometrial, colon/rectum, breast, and bladder.  It comes with a reduced risk for prostate cancer.
  • The reviewers concluded that risk factors such as obesity, age, diet and lack of physical inactivity are shared for diabetes and cancer.
  • They suggested possible links between diabetes and cancer in hyperinsulinemia (excess insulin in the blood, also known as pre-diabetes), hyperglycemia, and inflammation.
  • On the positive side, the research found that healthy eating, physical exercise, and losing weight lower risk factors and improve outcomes for people with type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer.  These healthy lifestyle choices should be encouraged for everyone.
  • They strongly suggested that people with diabetes have all appropriate cancer screenings.
  • More research is needed on the association between diabetes medications and cancer risk. Early research suggests that the old standby metformin has a lower risk factor than other agents for cancer and that insulin may raise this risk, but further research is needed.

The research did bring up more questions than it answered, but that is all right.  Research on the association between diabetes and cancer will continue, and that will improve treatment and prevention for both diabetes and cancer.

You can read information about this study on the American Diabetes Association website.

Get Enough Vitamin D
We noted an interesting press release from the Endocrine Society’s Annual Meeting in San Diego which cited studies that found vitamin D deficiency may be linked to diabetes.

One study done at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reviewed the charts of 124 people with type 2 diabetes from 2003 to 2008. Of this population, more than 90% had either had low levels of vitamin D or a vitamin D deficiency. Only about 6% were taking supplemental vitamin D.

Those who had low vitamin D levels had blood glucose levels above average.

Dr. Esther Krug, the co-author of the research, finished her report with the strong suggestion for screening of vitamin D levels at the primary care level.

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