Why Do Diabetics Have an Increased Risk of Cancer?
What Your Doctor May Not Have Told You…
You're Being Lied to About Diabetes
Doctors are ignoring the most successful diabetes treatment in the world -- even though it's been proven to REVERSE Type 2 and prediabetes, GET PATIENTS OFF diabetes drugs, LOWER INSULIN DOSES in Type 1's by 80% or more, SLASH WEIGHT without dieting or exercising like crazy, and PROTECT DIABETICS from the horrible complications that effect four million people every year. See the proof here...
It may shock you to learn the secret reason why this amazingly simple non-drug solution is being kept from you. I strongly urge you to watch this brief video to discover the truth about diabetes!
If you have diabetes, you already have enough problems on your plate. I don't want to add to them. But I'm sorry to say that two of the most common diseases in the United States — cancer and diabetes — share a stronger link than you might realize. The evidence is piling up like crazy.
I'm not surprised. In our research at Cancer Defeated we've seen for a long time that a diet high in sugar and other refined carbs is an underlying cause of both diseases.
We get news and tips from a large number of cancer patients and cancer survivors, and we find that when patients make the lifestyle changes needed to get rid of cancer they often rid themselves of diabetes, too. (Sometimes they get rid of arthritis while they're at it, but that's a story for another day.)
Instead of relying on these anecdotes, I asked one of my associate editors, Carol Parks, to see what kind of stats and studies she could find on the cancer-diabetes connection. She found a LOT of research that shows your risk of cancer goes up if you have diabetes.
In the words of Frederick Brancati, M.D., professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, "It's something that is hiding in plain sight. Diabetes is very common, cancer is very common, but no one had really thought to organize the literature and see it."1
Researchers are now connecting the dots between the two diseases. Specifically, scientists are analyzing all the available research from multiple well-designed studies — called a meta-analysis. This approach can highlight problems that a single study might miss.
The evidence has become so compelling that the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society held a consensus conference in 2009 — exploring the association between diabetes and cancer incidence, the risk factors common to both, and the causes of both. The consensus report is published in the July/August issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Findings from recent studies include:
- Japanese study: Showed adults with diabetes to be at increased risk of developing several kinds of cancer… increased liver, kidney, and pancreatic cancers for men, and stomach and liver cancers for women… compared to those without diabetes.2
- University of Minnesota School of Public Health and University of Minnesota Cancer Center: Found women with diabetes were 1.5 times more likely to develop colorectal cancer than women without diabetes.
Study author Dr. Andrew Flood, Assistant Professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and colleagues, examined the records of 45,000 participants from a large study called the Breast Cancer Detection Demonstration Project.
They chose participants with no history of colorectal cancer or diabetes at the beginning of the study, and followed the ones who later got colorectal cancer.
Flood and colleagues found that women with diabetes had the greatest risk of developing colorectal cancer. "These results remained statistically significant even after controlling for all known and suspected confounding variables," stated Flood.3
- Health, Eating, Activity and Lifestyle (HEAL) Study: Women with invasive breast cancer and elevated blood levels of C-peptide, a marker of insulin secretion, had a three times greater risk of death than women with lower C-peptide levels.
Researchers followed 689 women without type 2 diabetes for 9 years. They took regular fasting blood samples and other measurements like weight, height, age and lifestyle factors… and analyzed the link between C-peptide and risk of death, adjusting for other factors.
They found the risk of death to be three times higher in the highest C-peptide group compared to the lowest C-peptide group.4
- South Korea: A study of more than one million South Koreans suggests diabetes can raise the risk of developing — and dying from — several kinds of cancer. The highest risks were found in people with the highest blood sugar levels, says the study, which was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers analyzed data on 1.29 million South Koreans ages 30-95 through a health insurance group covering government employees, teachers and their families. The study followed participants for up to 10 years, beginning in 1992.
Those with diabetes were 30% more likely to develop and die from cancer than those who were diabetes-free. Pancreatic cancer showed the closest association with diabetes. This is no surprise, since the pancreas makes insulin. But diabetics were also at higher risk of liver, esophagus and colon cancer.5
- Johns Hopkins: Brancati (quoted above) and colleagues analyzed research from 23 studies looking at cancer patients who already had diabetes at the time they were diagnosed with cancer. They discovered that those with diabetes had a 1.4 times greater risk of dying from cancer than patients with no blood sugar problems. Mortality was statistically higher for breast, endometrial, and colorectal cancers.6
Overall, the risks from diabetes are greatest — twice as high, or more — for cancers of the liver, pancreas, and endometrium compared to people who aren't diabetic. And the risks are approximately 1.2 to 1.5 times higher for colorectal, breast, and bladder cancer.
Lung cancer doesn't appear to be linked to diabetes. Prostate cancer is the only cancer to be lower in diabetics. I don't recommend becoming diabetic to protect yourself against prostate cancer.
Most of the news appears to be bad for those with diabetes.
But stick with me for a few minutes, because there is a light at the end of the tunnel…
Some Quick Background about Diabetes
If you want to understand the search for the link between the two diseases, then start with a basic understanding of diabetes, and how it affects your body.
Diabetes is divided into two major types — called type 1 and type 2.
Few studies to date have explored cancer links to type 1 diabetes, so we'll focus on type 2 here. Type 2 is often called "adult onset diabetes" although these days it affects younger and younger people. This is the form of diabetes we bring on ourselves with a bad diet.
Whenever you eat any type of carbohydrate — whether bread, pasta, cereal, potatoes, rice, fruit, dessert, candy, soda, ice cream — it's converted to a simple sugar known as glucose.
It's true that glucose is a fuel, but it's toxic in excess — unless it's being burned inside your cells.
To get it out of your bloodstream and into your cells quickly, specialized beta cells in your pancreas sense an abundance of glucose in your bloodstream after you eat a meal. That's your body's way of telling your pancreas to release insulin, a peptide hormone that allows glucose to be admitted into muscle and liver cells. As I mentioned, it's urgent to get it out of your blood.
But if your liver and muscle cells are already filled with glycogen, the product of metabolizing glucose, then your cells' "receptor sites" become resistant to the insulin. The receptor sites then decrease both in number and efficiency (called "down regulation").
When your cells become insensitive to insulin, the sugar (glucose) stays in your bloodstream. To put it bluntly, your cells become so stuffed full of sugar they can't take in anymore. The pancreas still knows there's too much toxic glucose in your blood, so it frantically pumps out even more insulin, trying to get your cells to take in all the glucose. But this merely causes the receptors to become even more resistant. This is a bad thing, as excess insulin is also toxic. You've now got TWO toxins circulating in your blood: excess insulin and excess glucose.
If you read much health information, you already know all this as "insulin resistance syndrome".
Eventually, the insulin ushers the excess glucose into your fat cells, where it's stored as fat.
The whole process is very bad news, wreaking havoc over time:
- Because blood glucose is chronically too high due to not getting into your muscle cells, it becomes like sludge in your bloodstream and contributes to heart disease. It clogs arteries, binding with proteins to form harmful advanced glycated end-products (AGEs) which then cause systemic inflammation i.e. inflammation throughout your body.
- Your body begins to store more fat. Your muscles get less glycogen, and insulin inhibits the fat-burning enzyme lipase — so now you can't even burn stored fat as easily.
- Excess insulin in your bloodstream causes plaque build-up in your arteries — which is why heart disease is so common in diabetics. It's not widely known, but most diabetics actually diet of a heart attack after enough time goes by. They don't die directly from diabetes but from one of its side effects.
- Excess insulin also increases cellular proliferation in cancers.
- Insulin resistance not only prevents sugar from entering muscle cells — it also prevents amino acids from getting in. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Now you can't build or maintain your muscles either.
- While your bloodstream is clogged with glucose, other parts of your body are actually starved for it, because they can't metabolize it properly anymore. So they start cannibalizing precious muscle tissue to make more sugar. Meaning, you get fatter and lose more muscle.
- Your energy level nosedives, making you hungry for carbs and less willing to exercise. Definitely self-defeating.
- Your liver becomes insulin resistant and cannot convert thyroid hormone T4 to T3, so you get thyroid problems which make your metabolism even more sluggish.
- Excess sugar destroys nerve tissue, and you develop retinopathy and lose your eyesight.
- Eventually your pancreas becomes so exhausted, it can't make more insulin and you have to inject insulin to stay alive.
Now for the GOOD news on diabetes…
You can influence insulin sensitivity in two major ways!
Hear me out here… this is true life-saving information.
Exercise. Exercise plays a major role in improving insulin sensitivity. Your muscles burn stored glycogen as fuel during and after your workout. Exercised muscles desperately need glucose inside and will "up regulate" insulin receptors to speed up the process.
What kind of exercise should you do? Resistance training is just as effective as aerobic activity, but a combo is best.
If you exercise, your cells become "insulin sensitive" again — i.e. willing to respond when insulin "orders" them to open up to glucose. You won't require as much insulin to store any excess… and that in turn "up regulates" the fat-burning enzymes… and you burn stored fats at a faster rate. Amino acids and vital nutrients gain entry to your cells, so you build more muscle and lose fat. What's not to like about that?
Diet. Cut back on the carbs, especially the obvious sugars and refined foods. Make vegetables the base of your food pyramid, regardless of what the U.S. government says. It borders on the criminal for the government to suggest 60% of your calories should come from carbs. A high intake of refined, sugary foods is enormously stressful to your body.
What's more, after 21 days or so on your new diet, you'll quit craving those refined carbs, as your body becomes accustomed to the new, healthier foods.
In Search of the Hidden Reason
for the Diabetes-Cancer Link…
Researchers say there are many possible reasons for a link between diabetes and cancer, and for the higher risk that diabetics have of dying of cancer once they get it.
One big question is whether the association between diabetes and cancer risk is mostly due to shared risk factors, or whether diabetes itself — and the changes it makes in your body -- directly cause cancer.
In other words, does bad diet lead to diabetes which then leads to cancer, or does bad diet independently cause both at the same time? The mainstream doctors who conduct these studies might not put it that way, but I would. They like to speak of "risk factors" — they'll say "these two things are associated. . .they're found together." They don't like to say, "X causes cancer."
Researchers are looking into factors like these. . .
- Common risk factors, such as obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and aging. Obesity is one of the highest risk factors for type 2 diabetes, and also a well-established risk factor for some cancers — especially cancers of the colon, endometrium (inner lining of the uterus), breast, kidney and esophagus.
However, in the South Korean study, diabetes was associated with higher mortality rates from cancer even though few study participants were overweight. In addition, other studies suggest that weight alone may not be the reason for an increase in death among diabetes patients.
- Diabetics are more susceptible to infections, increasing the risk of death following surgery and other treatments.
- People with diabetes are at increased risk of other health problems, like kidney and heart disease — weakening their ability to endure chemotherapy or other aggressive treatments. Therefore, doctors may treat them less aggressively. They may figure the patient is too weak to take the treatment. Readers of this newsletter probably don't see that as a bad thing, since we oppose chemo in most cases.
- Doctors may fail to spot cancer in diabetic patients, due to a focus on their other diabetes-related problems.
- The most plausible possibility may be that high insulin levels create an environment conducive to cancer growth.
Dr. Edward Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, notes that insulin and insulin-like growth factors (IGF) can promote some cancers. Also, many people with type 2 diabetes have high levels of circulating insulin, quite possibly for years before they're diagnosed with diabetes.
The majority of cancer cells express insulin and IGF-1 receptors. In addition to metabolic functions, the insulin receptor is also capable of stimulating cancer cell proliferation and metastasis. Insulin and IGF may also be able to stimulate normal cells involved in cancer progression.7
Lead author of the South Korean study, Sun Ha Jee, a public health researcher at Yonsei University in Seoul, said, "Insulin may influence cell growth. Cancer is characterized by runaway cell growth."
In the HEAL Study, researchers found a correlation between C-peptide levels and higher death rates. Dr. Melinda L. Irwin, assistant professor at Yale University School of Public Health, noted that "C-peptide and most likely insulin, in and of itself, is a marker for breast cancer prognosis."8
Irwin suggested, "The simple message is that breast cancer patients should take proven steps to lower their blood insulin levels, including exercise and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables…"
- Giovannucci and colleagues stress that it's important to also look at glucose as a potential cancer mediator, given the dependence of many cancers on glucose for energy. As I've pointed out before in this newsletter, cancer lives on sugar. It's astounding that conventional oncologists often tell cancer patients, "Diet makes no difference at all to cancer treatment. Eat whatever you want." Mainstream medicine should consider the possibility that chronic high blood sugar facilitates cancer growth.9
If you want to reduce or eliminate your risk of diabetes, click here for an excellent report on this subject. This doctor says he's able to eliminate diabetes in 30 days, and he provides a lot of evidence — and real life patients — to prove it.
American Diabetes Association president Larry Deeb, MD, told WebMD that these recent findings add to the evidence that those who lower their risk of type 2 diabetes, or control the disease if they already have it, may also reduce their cancer risk.
That means you need to:
- Maintain a healthy body weight.
- Get active for at least 30 minutes every day. Take your dog or child for a walk — you'll all benefit.
- Eat a mostly raw, plant-based diet that's healthy and varied.
Says Alice Bender, nutrition communications manager for the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), "At least for cancer, we know that each factor (above) independently lowers the risk of certain cancers, but all three done together are even more powerful. And, I suspect that's the case for preventing type 2 diabetes also."10
Of course, it's also a good idea to limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. And don't smoke.
Compliance could literally save your life… So PLEASE get started today.
1Tamkins, Theresa, "Diabetes Increases Cancer Mortality Risk", CNNHealth.com, Dec. 16, 2008.
2Boyles, Salynn, "Diabetes May Raise Cancer Risk: Study Shows Liver, Kidney and Pancreatic Cancers More Frequent in Diabetes Patients", WebMD Health News, Sept. 25, 2006.
3"Diabetes and Cancer Risk in Women", Medical News Today.com, Dec. 10, 2007.
4"Diabetes and Cancer Risk in Women", Medical News Today.com, Dec. 10, 2007.
5"Study Links Diabetes to Cancer Risk", MSNBC.msn.com, Jan. 11, 2005.
6Tamkins, Theresa, "Diabetes Increases Cancer Mortality Risk", CNNHealth.com, Dec. 16, 2008.
7Giovannucci, Edward, MN, ScD, et al, "diabetes and Cancer: A Consensus Report", CA Cancer J Clin 2010.
8"Diabetes and Cancer Risk in Women", Medical News Today.com, Dec. 10, 2007.
9Giovannucci, Edward, MD, ScD, et al, "Diabetes and Cancer: A Consensus Report", CA Cancer J Clin 2010.
10"Scientists Tease Out Links Between Diabetes, Cancer", HealthDay, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, June 16, 2010.
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