Diabetes Can Increase Cancer Risk

Diabetes and cancer represent two complex, diverse, chronic, and potentially fatal diseases. Both are lifestyle disease and are closely associated with each other. Cancer is the second leading cause of death, while diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death with the latter still likely underreported. There is a growing body of scientific evidence published of late that suggests a substantial increase in cancer incidence in diabetic patients.

  • The worldwide prevalence of diabetes is on the rise and was estimated to rise from 171 million in 2000 to 366 million in 2030.
  • About 26.9%of all people over 65 have diabetes and 60% suffer from cancer.
  • About 8–18% of cancer patients have diabetes.

Both these diseases pose significant public healthcare problem and need a close watch as well as action. Study of epidemiology suggests that people with diabetes are at significantly higher risk for many forms of cancer. Type 2 diabetes and cancer share many risk factors. Patients with diabetes are at a higher risk than the general population of developing cancer of many organs like the urinary tract, liver, biliary tract, pancreas, colon, endometrium and kidney. It is believed that uncontrolled diabetes may lead to tumour growth by altering various mechanisms of metabolism (the way our body utilizes the energy). Also, the obesity that is associated with diabetes is linked to the development of resistance to insulin. This leads to the production of high levels of insulin by the body in order to compensate insulin resistance.

Obesity is also associated with inflammation that may trigger cancer development. Additionally, uncontrolled diabetes may also lead to damage to small blood vessels of the body and lead to an inflammatory state which can also create chances for tumour development. Generally, people with diabetes have an increased risk of cancer like Bladder, Breast cancer, Colorectal, Endometrial cancer, Liver and Pancreatic cancer. For this reason, they should be on a close screening.  

Managing cancer risk for diabetes: Three protective steps 

  • Eat right – It is important to follow a proper diet that includes a lot of green vegetables, fruits and whole grains that helps in managing your diabetes and thereby lowers the risk of developing certain cancers. A healthy diet may also lead to weight loss and reduce the risk of developing insulin resistance and diabetes.
  • Exercise – A 30 to 45-minute walk or a moderate exercise can help you a lot in improving your health. Exercise will help you in maintaining your body weight by cutting your extra fats and reducing the chances of increasing your risk for cancer.  Obesity is also linked to cancer, thereby maintain your body weight can reduce the growth of cancer cells in the body. 
  • Quit smoking and drinking – Smoking and alcohol are both associated with the development of cancer as well as diabetes. Quitting it at the initial stage or as soon as you are diagnosed with cancer is the best you can do to increase your survival chances for cancer.

While continuous research is being done on the link between cancer and diabetes, it is always good to be on a safe side and realize the potential harm of diabetes linked to cancer.

For reducing the risk cancer growth it is necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle that consists of proper diet, proper physical activities, 8 hours of sleep and avoidance of smoking and alcohol. Also, timely health checkups and updates are recommended.