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.
If you have diabetes, or high blood sugar that puts you at risk for diabetes. . .
You've probably been told you must eat better and avoid "bad-for-you" foods, like carbs and sugar.
But I've got shocking news: Trying to follow this advice won't just make you miserable – it can actually spoil your chances of controlling your blood sugar and living a normal, healthy life.
Instead, get your blood sugar under control naturally without any kind of restrictive diet. Click here to see the free video presentation. . .
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:
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:
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. . .
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:
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.
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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