Diabetes and Cancer
Diabetes and cancer are common diseases with tremendous impact on health. It appears that they also have commonality in risk factors. According to a consensus report from the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society people who have type 2 diabetes are at greater risk for developing cancer. It states that having Type 2 Diabetes doubles the risk for developing liver, pancreatic, or endometrial cancer; it also increases the risk of colorectal, breast, and bladder cancer by 20% to 50%. People with diabetes tend to have risk factors for cancer such as older age, obesity, poor diet, and physical inactivity.
Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer are characterized by chronic inflammation, which increases production of free radicals that can disrupt insulin signaling and damage DNA. Ensuing genetic mutations can lead to cancer. Adipose cells (fat cells) produce a range of pro-inflammatory cytokines (cell-to-cell signaling proteins), including interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α). Human studies link elevated levels of IL-6, TNF-α, and C-reactive protein, a biomarker of inflammation, to greater risks for certain cancers and possibly aggressive progression of cancer.
It is important to understand that body fat is a metabolically active; and too much of it can increase cancer risk in the following ways:
- Fat cells produce estrogen. High levels of estrogen which can cause cancer.
- Fat cells produce a variety of proteins that cause high levels of insulin and other hormones, which in turn may stimulate cancer cell growth.
- Excess body fat produces cytokines and other substances that can lead to chronic inflammation, associated with increased cancer risks.
- Visceral fat is even more active in producing growth stimulants and cancer cell growth.
Greater body fat, particularly with insulin resistance, tends to increase leptin production. Rising leptin levels further increase hyperinsulinemia, promote inflammation, and induce enzymes that raise estrogen production in postmenopausal women. In cell studies, leptin also directly promotes cell proliferation and angiogenesis and inhibits cell death. Some studies link elevated leptin to increased incidence of colorectal, postmenopausal breast, and other type cancers.
The link between diabetes and certain cancers is well-founded. We know if we reduce obesity and chronic inflammation we can then reduce diseases such as diabetes and cancer.