Why cancer is especially dangerous to people with type 2 diabetes

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In a study from the University of Leicester, scientists found that cancer mortality in people with type 2 diabetes is higher than in the general population, by 18% for all cancers combined, 9% for breast cancer and 2.4 times for colorectal cancer.

They also found cancer mortality in people with diabetes was around double that in the general population for diabetes-related cancers including liver (both sexes), pancreatic (both sexes) and endometrial (women only) cancers.

The study also showed increasing breast cancer mortality rates by 4.1% per year in the younger women with type 2 diabetes across the 20-year study period from 1998-2018.

Previous evidence has shown higher risks for some types of cancer in people with type 2 diabetes.

This may be caused by prolonged exposure to the effects of increased blood sugar and insulin levels, insulin resistance and chronic inflammation.

Robust evidence indicates that there is a causal relationship between type 2 diabetes and pancreatic, liver and endometrial cancer.

In the current study, researchers used data from 137,804 individuals with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes with a follow-up of 8.4 years.

They found all-cause death risks decreased at all ages between 1998 and 2018; cancer (all cancers combined except non-melanoma skin cancer) death rates also decreased for 55-year-olds (by 1.4% per year) and 65-year-olds (by 0.2% per year) but increased for 75-year-olds (by 1.2% per year) and 85-year-olds (by 1.6% per year).

The researchers say that decreasing heart disease death observed in older age groups is the result of successful heart disease prevention and treatment in the last few decades.

Now people live longer and have a greater chance of experiencing other conditions and therefore dying from other causes (including cancer).

Diabetes screening, better management of diabetes and its complications, earlier cancer detection and improved cancer treatments could benefit younger people with type 2 diabetes in the same way as they have in the general population.

In conclusion, the findings underline the growing cancer burden in people with type 2 diabetes, particularly in older individuals.

They highlight the need to prioritize cancer prevention, research and early detection and management in this population, especially for colorectal, pancreatic, liver and endometrial cancer.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies that flaxseed oil is more beneficial than fish oil to people with diabetes, and green tea and coffee could help reduce death risk in diabetes.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that blueberries strongly benefit people with metabolic syndrome, and results showing vitamin D could improve blood pressure in people with diabetes.

The study was conducted by Dr. Suping Ling et al and published in Diabetologia.

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