Diabetes May Increase Breast Cancer Risk by 40%: Study Shock Result

Medical researchers have found more evidence linking diabetes to breast cancer.  In addition, with this unwelcome news comes an indication that cancer may also be associated with the use of one of the doctor’s best weapons against the disease.

Diabetes, which affects around 27 million Americans with diagnoses on the increase, is associated with a number of complications, including heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, blindness, nerve damage and gangrene, coma and kidney failure.  Diabetes also compromises the immune system, which can make it easier for other diseases to take hold.

For breast cancer, as for diabetes, obesity increases the risk of getting it, but even with figures adjusted for obesity and high cholesterol, scientists found diabetes posed a threat of increased breast cancer risk in the first four years after diagnosis.

The study was carried out in Sweden sponsored by the Southern Health Care Region, and presented by Dr Hakan Olsson from Lund University at the 34th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas.

The team studied Swedish population records that follow citizens from birth to death, looking at data from 2,724 cancer patients and comparing them to 20,542 control subjects chosen to match the cancer patients in age, sex, and lifestyle.  They also scrutinized information fromSweden’s pharmaceutical prescription records, looking at products like metformin and glargine, which are used to treat diabetes. Of their 2,274 case patients, 202 had used glargine and 1,036 had used metformin.  In the control group 7,039 used metformin and 1,297 had used glargine.

The study threw up an increased risk of breast cancer of almost 40% for diabetics.  In addition, this grim news was followed by the discovery that the drug glargine, a long lasting insulin substitute that can prevent perilous nighttime hypoglycemia, also seems to raise cancer risk.  However, the research team did find that metformin, probably the most widely used diabetes medication after insulin, was associated with a decreased risk of cancer – although this was very small.  In fact, a study is to take place soon in theUSandCanadato test the reduced cancer risk linked to metformin use, and subjects are being recruited to take part.  Subjects will be given metformin or a placebo to assess the effect the diabetes medication has on lowering cancer risk and whether it could be a viable anti cancer therapy.

The biggest risk to American health is and remains poor lifestyle choices, particularly the consumption of over processed “junk” foods, high levels of saturated fats and trans fats and refined starches.  Combined with increasingly a sedentary way of life as the computer age lures more people into living through the internet, this has given rise to increasing levels of obesity in theUSpopulation – also mirrored in all developed countries and on the rise in developing nations.

Obesity is of course the most important factor in the development of diabetes and is also a risk factor for most cancers, with poor diet and insufficient exercise also common features.  However, more research is needed to find out exactly what the link is between these two serious health conditions and the lifestyle choices that seem to contribute to them.

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