Diabetes increases risk of cancer, say experts

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

LOS ANGELES - People with diabetes may face an increased risk of cancer, a study has found.

“There’s a strong consensus that there is a link between diabetes and cancer, and there are some very plausible biological links,” said Edward Giovannucci, lead author of the study and professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

The American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association released the report jointly Wednesday, Xinhua reported.

The study found that insulin, and insulin-like growth factors, can promote some cancers, and that many people with type two diabetes have high levels of circulating insulin, sometimes for years before they’re diagnosed with diabetes.

There is enough evidence to show an association between diabetes and an increased risk of liver, pancreas, endometrial, colon, rectal, breast and bladder cancer, according to the report.

Interestingly, however, the study found evidence that diabetes is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.

The panel found that the commonly used type two diabetes medication, metformin, might offer users some protection against cancer.

This may be because the drug reduces insulin resistance and lowers the need for additional insulin, or that metformin may act on cells in other direct or indirect ways, the report said.

Giovannucci said the most important message to take away from this research is the “profound effects that lifestyle changes can have on your risk of diabetes and your risk of cancer”.

He said it’s not always the most popular message, but to lower the risk of cancer, it’s important to reduce body weight, exercise, improve the diet and avoid smoking.

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