Insulin therapy increases pancreatic cancer risk
Insulin therapy increases the risk of pancreatic cancer and overall cancer, according to research from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
Researcher Zhiqiang Lu studied data from more than 230,000 patients in the United Kingdom on antidiabetic therapy. Lu found that the use of insulin alone or in combination with other oral agents was associated with an increased risk of cancer.
In particular, use of insulin alone increased the risk for pancreatic cancer by 88 percent. The study found that it increased the risk of colorectal cancer as well.
In addition, insulin with oral agents increased the risk of pancreatic cancer by 133 percent.
Lu explored the role of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) value in modifying the risk. HbA1c is a lab test that shows the average amount of glucose in the blood over three months.
His analysis showed that HbA1c appears to be a risk factor for pancreatic cancer, with abnormal levels increasing the risk by 38 percent. The risk posed by HbA1c value varies among different types of cancer.
Other factors that increase the risk of pancreatic cancer include premixed and intermediate-acting insulin, compared to short-acting insulin.
Diabetes, cancer link
It’s well documented that people with diabetes are at higher risk for some cancers than people without diabetes. Cancers of the pancreas, colon, breast, liver, uterus, and bladder occur more frequently in people with type 2 diabetes, according to Mayo Clinic.
Potential reasons for the link between diabetes and cancer include shared risk factors, hyperglycemia, and other metabolic abnormalities of type 2 diabetes that cause cancer, according to Mayo Clinic.
Shared risk factors include advanced age, obesity and overweight, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, being male, excessive alcohol intake, ethnicity, and tobacco smoking.
Lower your risk
Losing weight is one recommendation by American Diabetes Association to lower the risk of cancer. Weight loss of just 7 percent of total weight has shown to make a significant difference in a person’s cancer risk.
Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains is another recommendation. Low-fat or non-fat dairy products and lean meats are also sensible choices. Watching portion sizes is crucial.
Individuals should set a goal of getting physical activity 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, according to American Diabetes Association.
Finally, quitting smoking can lower the risk of developing cancer.
Sources: University of Maryland, Mayo Clinic, American Diabetes Association