Glucose intolerance linked to cancer risk in women
(27 February 2007: VIDYYA MEDICAL NEWS SERVICE) -- High blood glucose levels -- even before they reach the level needed for a diagnosis of diabetes -- may signal an increased risk for cancer in women, according to a new study being published in the March issue of Diabetes Care.
Women whose blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes, have an increased risk for several types of cancer, according to a study by researchers in Sweden. While previous studies have shown a link between type 2 diabetes and several cancers, this study finds the mechanisms that lead to cancer may be at work much earlier, as glucose levels begin to rise.
The study, funded by the World Cancer Research Fund, confirmed an association between high fasting glucose levels and pancreatic, breast, and endometrial cancers, and a two-fold increase in the risk of malignant melanoma. The study did not find an association between high glucose levels and total cancer risk in men.
Lead researcher Dr. Par Stattin, of the Department of Surgical and perioperative sciences at Umea University Hospital in Sweden, speculates that the lack of an association among men is due to the fact that prostate cancer, which is by far the most common cancer among men in this study, was inversely related to glucose levels. That is, high glucose levels were associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer.
The researchers also found an increase in the prevalence of elevated blood glucose levels during the 13-year period in which participants were recruited, leading them to conclude that the cancer rate would likewise increase over time unless steps were taken to reduce rising glucose levels.
"A lifestyle that decreases plasma glucose levels may reduce overall cancer risk, not only among overweight or obese subjects, but most likely among subjects with normal body weight," the researchers concluded.
The American Diabetes Association advocates lifestyle changes that include moderate weight loss and increased physical activity of at least 150 minutes per week. Such changes have been shown to substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and are also beneficial in reducing the risk for heart disease.
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