The Link Between Diabetes and Cancer


If you have diabetes, you know you have a higher risk for medical problems like heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness. But there’s another threat to add to the list: cancer.

People with diabetes (especially those with type 2 diabetes) have a higher chance of getting certain cancers than people with normal blood sugar levels. The cancers include:

•Liver
•Pancreatic
•Endometrial
•Colon and rectal
•Breast
•Bladder
Why the link?
Experts from the American Diabetes Association and American Cancer Society reviewed research on diabetes and cancer to understand the relationship between these two conditions.

The group could not pinpoint the exact reason why people with diabetes are more likely to get some types of cancer. More research has to be done before experts fully understand the connection, but here are some theories:

•High blood sugar levels may somehow cause cancer cells to form in the body.
•The insulin resistance and inflammation seen with diabetes may make cells more prone to cancer.
•Type 2 diabetes and cancer have many shared risk factors. If you have certain risk factors – such as advanced age, obesity, poor diet, or sedentary lifestyle – your chance of getting either disease goes up.
What you can do about it
Researchers may not know the exact link yet, but you can take steps now to ward off cancer and/or diabetes.

A healthy lifestyle is the best way to cut your risk of both diseases. In fact, one study found that the following healthy habits can reduce your risk of getting diabetes by more than 75 percent, and cut your chance of getting cancer by more than 33 percent:

1.Reach and maintain a healthy weight. If you are overweight, even a modest weight loss can help reduce health risks. Aim to lose 5 percent to 10 percent of your body weight at first. That’s just 10 to 20 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds.
2.Eat a nutritious diet. Limit foods that are high in saturated and trans fats, and sodium, such as red and processed meats. Build a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean sources of protein, and low-fat or nonfat dairy products. And be mindful of portion sizes.
3.Exercise regularly. Check with your doctor first to make sure it’s safe to be physically active. Then work up to at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Start slowly and choose activities you enjoy doing, such as brisk walking, tennis, or swimming.
4.Don’t smoke. If you do, get help from your doctor to quit.
5.Easy does it. Drink alcohol only in moderation if you choose to drink. Women should have no more than one alcoholic drink each day, and men should have no more than two drinks per day.
If you already have diabetes, follow your treatment plan as prescribed by your doctor to reduce your risk of complications. And get screened for cancer and other conditions as often as your doctor suggests. Treatment for cancer may work better when the disease is an early stage.

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