Can Diabetes Lead to Cancer?

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Diabetes and Cancer – A Dual Diagnosis

Researchers are still trying to answer the big question everyone wants to know – which is, “Can diabetes lead to cancer?” A dual diagnosis of both diabetes and cancer is common with an estimated 1 in 5 patients having both diseases.

Diabetes can double the risk factor of liver, pancreatic and endometrial cancer and also increase the risk of colorectal, breast and bladder cancer by 20% – 50%.

Studies have shown that diabetes actually cuts the risk factor of prostate cancer in men, with low testosterone levels being the probable cause. Various wide spread studies have been conducted around the world, to try to find the link between cancer and diabetes.

Probable Links

Presently, there are studies that suggest that diabetes certainly can lead to being diagnosed with cancer in the future.

Having diabetes can increase your risk factor for certain cancers, and numerous studies suggest that the two diseases are in fact linked. No ‘one’ simple or obvious correlation has been determined, but there are many lifestyle factors that co-exist for sufferers of both conditions.

One of the main factors is said to be high blood glucose levels. Studies into high glucose levels have explored and found that cancer cells are fueled by glucose from the blood which may contribute to the growth of new cells or tumors.

Another study has shown that persistently high insulin levels may be one of the factors that raise the risk of cancer in diabetics. Recent studies have shown that high insulin levels may increase the growth of tumors.

Two of the most vulnerable organs for cancer in the body are the pancreas and liver. Both of these organs are known to be exposed to and affected by a high amount of insulin, with the pancreas releasing insulin to the liver. Since insulin increases the production of sex hormones in the ovaries, it is then linked to ovarian, uterine and breast cancers too.

Inflammation Another Suspected Link

Chronic inflammation caused by diabetes is also another suspect connection in the link between cancer and diabetes. Certain molecules, particularly the c-reactive protein, that are linked to certain types of cancer are also seen in inflammation caused by uncontrolled glucose levels in diabetes.

This can suggest that inflammation may be the connection between diabetes and cancer. Recent studies in different areas of health are forming a consensus that inflammation is a root cause of many illnesses (some claim all). High blood sugar levels are strongly correlated with inflammation.

Other Co-causes

Some studies suggest that certain medications used to treat hyperglycemia may be associated with an increased risk of developing cancer. In the treatment of cancer, particular medications and treatments including chemotherapy have been known to increase blood sugar levels in patients with levels of 300 mg/dL or over.

This can cause diabetics’ levels to fluctuate and need to be monitored during treatment carefully. Studies have shown that while men are more at risk than women in developing certain cancers, diabetes and obesity plays a role for both genders.

Smoking has also been shown to be an independent risk factor for diabetes and cancer alike. Smoking with diabetes can also add to the risk of developing further complications and can lead to the development of various types of cancer including lung, mouth and stomach cancers. 

Follow Your Diabetic Diet and Exercise

The specialized diet that a diabetic is placed on may reduce the risks of cancer, due to its high content of fruit and vegetables and reduced portions of meat, processed foods, simple carbs and especially sugar.

Exercise is also needed to help manage diabetes and is known to lower the risks for certain cancers like breast cancer, as it lowers estrogen levels.

Monitor Your Own Signs

If you have relatives or close family members with a history of either diabetes or cancer it is important to have regular screenings and live a healthy lifestyle to lower your risks of either disease. If you have any concerns or changes to your body such as a lump or pains it is important to speak to your health care provider for further testing and treatment.

It is an undeniable fact that a healthy lifestyle, including diet and exercise, plays a large role in preventing many diseases. So why not incorporate the best ‘preventative medicine’ available to each and every one of us, and make changes if necessary?

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