Why Do Diabetics Have an Increased
Risk of Cancer?
January 13th, 2013 by Holly Cornish
What Your Doctor May Not Have Told You…
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 get rid of diabetes while they’re at it. (Sometimes they get rid of arthritis, too.) You can kill two or even three birds with one stone. Here’s why. . .
Continued below. . .
Breast Cancer Survivor was told:
“You’ll be dead in a year” (Pssst!! That was 12 years ago!)
Doctors didn’t give Wiltrude much hope when they diagnosed her with cancer in the year 2000. Wiltrude, a German psychologist, never thought cancer would happen to her. But it did. And it came as a big shock.
One doctor told her, “You’ll be dead in a year.” Late stage breast cancer is virtually incurable using conventional treatments. Even M.D.s admit it. They talk about “buying you more time.” (Don’t count on it. The evidence shows you’re better off doing nothing than chemo.)
When Wiltrude told her doctor she was going to try alternative treatments, he said, “You are committing suicide with what you’re doing.” But she was determined to find a way to beat her cancer.
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, this European woman came across a book by my good friend Bill Henderson, one of the smartest and wisest people I know when it comes to cancer treatment.
She tried Bill’s top, number one recommendation — a gentle treatment you can do at home for just $5.15 a day. What’s more, the cost goes down to $3.50 after six weeks because you just need a maintenance dose. And it even tastes good.
Not only has Wiltrude passed the five-year cancer survival mark, she’s survived for 12 years. We just interviewed her recently for this publication. The radiologist who tests her every year told her, “You’re the only one with this kind of result.”
You can find out about Bill’s proven cancer treatment plan in a free video presentation — click here to watch it now.
When I ask him about some of the treatments that top alternative doctors use, Bill sort of shrugs and says, “They’re fine, but why bother? My treatment works, you can do it yourself, and it costs practically nothing.”
He’s coached thousands of cancer patients with all different types and stages of cancer. Most of the people who follow the detailed, specific plan in this Special Report get over their cancer and live for years.
“Almost any kind of cancer is reversible,” says Bill. “I never give up on anyone.”
Instead of relying only on what we hear from cancer patients, 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, 2010 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.Assisted by colleagues, Dr. Andrew Flood, Assistant Professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, 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 focused on the ones who got colorectal cancer later on.
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 type of cancer found 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 your body needs, 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 hormone that allows glucose to be admitted into muscle and liver cells. As I mentioned, it’s urgent to get glucose 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, 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 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 die 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. In other words, it causes cancer to grow.
- 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. You find yourself feeling tired all the time.
- 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 glucose… 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. Doctors become reluctant to administer treatments to patients who are too ill and weak to handle them.
- 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
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.
A habit of taking good supplements every day can help prevent or treat both cancer and diabetes. The article in our last issue was about that very subject. If you missed it, please scroll down and take a look now.
Is Cancer Actually Just a
Supplements have gotten a lot of bad press lately. It’s preposterous, considering all the evidence that taking nutritional supplements is the easiest, lowest-cost way to protect public health. A huge reduction in illness and healthcare costs would result if all Americans took just a few basic supplements.
Supplements not only give you nutrients that may be hard to get from your regular diet, but they also protect against long-term diseases — including cancer.
There’s irrefutable evidence that supplements can save you from a host of chronic diseases. Below are some facts on nutritional deficiencies and the problems they cause. I’ve stuck to examples where the benefits are proven and obvious. Nothing here is far out or controversial. Read on to learn how essential supplements are for long-term health.
Continued below. . .
The Real Reason You’re Tired
If you’re feeling tired and listless too often … lacking your old pep and enthusiasm … and relying on caffeine and energy drinks to make it through the day…
There are two secret medical reasons why.
They’re your adrenal glands — and, chances are, they’re both “burned out.”
Does this sound like you?
You can’t seem to get going in the morning without coffee or a strong energy drink.
You sputter out mid-morning — yawning, tired, and unable to concentrate.
When you get home, you collapse on the couch.
Yet, at night you toss and turn — and simply can’t fall into a deep sleep.
If this sounds like your life lately, please keep reading…
…because there’s a remarkable new way to “recharge” your body and actually fix the secret cause of “adrenal fatigue!”
Even better — in just a matter of days, this natural solution can have you feeling more energetic and alive than you have in decades!
Diseases linked to nutritional deficiency
Here are just a few of the diseases common in our culture, along with the nutritional deficiencies connected to them:
- Cardiovascular disease — Significant deficiencies in vitamin D have been linked to peripheral artery disease, which usually precedes cardiovascular disease. Also, vitamins C, D, and E promote healthy endothelial function, which curbs the risk of heart disease. Coenzyme Q10 deficiencies cause cardiac problems as well.
- Osteoporosis — Long-term calcium deficiencies usually bring about problems in bone structure and strength. Most folks know about that connection. What’s not as well-known is that vitamin D and magnesium are necessary for calcium to absorb properly in your body. If you have too little vitamin D in your body, you’re at risk for osteoporosis.
- Prostate disease — Few people realize zinc is essential to a healthy prostate and to male reproductive and urinary health in general. Zinc supplementation has even been known to help men overcome erectile dysfunction.
- Underperforming thyroid (hypothyroidism) — Not nearly enough people get the 200 daily micrograms of iodine they need for general health. That dose is the bare minimum. Lack of iodine translates to millions of people feeling tired or cold, and has also been linked to breast cancer (see Issue #9). Long-term iodine deficiencies often turn into hypothyroidism.
These common deficiencies are just the tip of the iceberg. Genetic diseases and toxins in food or the environment are also major causes of disease, but aside from that I wouldn’t be surprised if every chronic disease or illness can be traced to a nutritional deficiency.
Remember that diseases like cancer and diabetes are multi-causal: genes, toxins and nutritional deficiency all work together to make you sick. Of the three, nutritional deficiencies are the easiest to fix.
If you’ve never taken supplements before, prepare yourself for a startling surprise if you begin. The standard American diet (SAD) is so lacking in nutrients that millions of us — perhaps hundreds of millions — are walking around with headaches, body aches, digestive upset, skin problems, sinus problems, frequent colds and flu, and many other diseases that may quickly disappear when you start taking the basic vitamins and minerals.
To reap the most benefit from supplements, take them every day, long term. Do not treat them as drugs that you take when you’re sick. A typical example is the person who starts taking vitamin C at the first sign of a cold. By then, it’s a little bit late. Take vitamins every day of your life and there’s a pretty good chance you won’t get a cold, or it won’t be as severe if you do get one.
Nutrition and cancer links
Now, let’s take the nutrition/disease link one step further…
For starters, a higher magnesium intake appears to reduce the risk of colon cancer. This knowledge comes thanks to a recent study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition where a relationship between magnesium intake and colorectal cancer was demonstrated.
Then you’ve got the studies that indicate a higher vitamin D intake reduces the risk of breast, prostate, pancreatic, and colorectal cancer. Note: you can get vitamin D for free, because your body makes its own when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Of course, you can also get vitamin D through dietary supplements, and during the winter you may have to.
In fact, here’s an interesting correlation. If you look at U.S. maps that show cancer mortality rates for prostate and breast cancer, you’ll see mortality increase as you go farther north. People in Maine are more likely to come down with these two diseases than people in Georgia. It’s almost certainly due to sun exposure, or the lack thereof.
Women who have higher levels of carotenoids circulating in their bloodstreams also seem to have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, according to researchers from Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Beta carotene, the raw material from which the body makes vitamin A, is the best known carotenoid, but there are others. A diet of varied and colorful fruits and vegetables is the best way to benefit from a full range of carotenoids. In general, color — red, yellow, orange — is associated with nutrients.
And don’t leave out B vitamins. They are known to stimulate immune function, most especially fighter T cells.
Still, make sure you buy the good stuff
The way I see it, supplements are powerful tools when it comes to preventing or curing cancer. But that’s simply because a healthy diet full of natural vitamins energizes your immune system. In turn, your immune system defeats cancer.
If you were to take cancer cells and put them in a healthy person with a fully functioning immune system, in most cases, the cancer will be killed off. This proves how essential immunity is to the body. Immunity is improved by nutrition. Nutrition is enhanced through supplementation.
This is exactly why doctors who understand the body’s natural defenses tend to rally against chemotherapy. It destroys your immune system — your body’s best shot at fighting off cancer in the first place.
I’ll concede that some of the vitamins on the market are junk. You’ve got to be vigilant about what you buy and from whom. Just as you do when you buy produce, consider how the vitamins were manufactured.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in charge of regulating dietary supplements. They classify supplements as food, not drugs. This is a good thing. Contrast that with far too many drug approvals that are influenced by the money interests of pharmaceutical companies.
In fact, dietary supplements don’t actually require FDA approval before entering the market unless they include a new ingredient that’s never been marketed before. In that case, the FDA has to be notified before the supplement goes to market, and the notifying company has to provide information that proves the ingredient is safe.
Over the years, there have only been two or three times when a dietary supplement was deemed unsafe and pulled off the market (quite the opposite of the long list of disasters we’ve seen in prescription drugs). In each case, the charges were trumped up and the supplement was, in fact, safe and effective.
One of the banned supplements was ephedra, which was created to help with weight loss/energy. Ephedra was — and is — safe if taken properly. But it’s a stimulant and, if abused, it can cause problems. The other case was tryptophan, a natural substance that occurs in turkey, milk and many other foods. One manufacturer shipped contaminated tryptophan, so the FDA banned the supplement completely for many years. Tryptophan itself is completely safe; the problem was the contaminant.
And that’s it. Two cases of “bad” supplements, and they weren’t even bad. Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of people rush to an emergency room every year with a bad reaction to a prescription drug — and the press doesn’t mind at all. So remember that next time you hear some journalist yammering about the dangers of supplements.
Forget all the high-tech machines and exotic chemicals you find in a hospital. Sometimes, your best bet for staying cancer-free comes from a tiny little vitamin.
Lee Euler, Publisher