Breast Cancer and Diabetes: The Deadly Truth

Being diagnosed with breast cancer is scary all on its own and unfortunately, is a common reality for millions of women. What happens when diabetes is also a health issue in these same women? Recent studies have shown that the combination of breast cancer and pre-existing diabetes leads to a higher death rate in women. Research conducted at Johns Hopkins may have lead to a possible discovery of the bridge between breast cancer, pre-existing diabetes and death. Researchers have stated that research needs to be ongoing to find advances in fighting this deadly battle.

A possible reason for this dilemma may be that once women who already have diabetes are diagnosed with breast cancer they tend to think less about the diabetes and more about the cancer. Breast cancer is a tough hurdle to get over, making diabetes seem like less of a threat. Researches think that some women become so focused on fighting breast cancer and see it as a possible death sentence that treating diabetes becomes an afterthought which can lead to poor blood sugar control and poor health in general. Researches also think there may be a link between poor blood sugar control and the increased risk of women with diabetes dying from breast cancer.

Unfortunately, in some cases having diabetes is already associated with having overall poor health. Generally speaking, diabetes often comes with high cholesterol, hypertension and obesity which further complicate the matter. These three ailments are linked to breast cancer all on their own. Women with high cholesterol, hypertension or those that are obese are at a greater risk of developing breast cancer. According to experts, a study conducted in 2001 concluded that there is a significantly higher risk to obese women with breast cancer dying from the disease. Typically breast cancer in obese women is detected at a later stage then in healthy, fit women.

Researches involved in the Johns Hopkins study came to another possible reason for the link between breast cancer, diabetes and a high risk of death. Some diabetic breast cancer patients receive less aggressive treatment regarding chemotherapy and radiation due to their pre-existing diabetes. The reason behind the less aggressive treatment is fear. Some doctors fear that treating the cancer aggressively while treating diabetes will lead to added negative side effects like infections and hospitalization. The fear of not knowing or possibly further complicating the matter has lead researchers to the point of needing further studies to find the answers.

Though the risk of death is greater for breast cancer patients with diabetes, there is some hope in the future. Researchers are ready and willing to participate in and conduct further studies that they hope will lead to more answers and eventually a method of treatment to reduce high death rates. Some researchers would like to see extensive studies done on the effect diabetes medications like Metformin have on breast cancer patients. They want to know if diabetes medications are harmful or beneficial. One possible solution researchers say is to continue to treat diabetes alongside breast cancer.

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