Tuesday, August 16

Diabetes and pancreatic cancer are more related than we think

In fact, the incidence of neoplasms in patients diagnosed with diabetes is double in certain tumors, such as liver cancer, pancreatic cancer and endometrial cancer. In addition, there is a 20 to 50% higher chance of colon, breast, or bladder cancer for those who are diabetic.

This is explained by Dr. Joseba Rebollo, a specialist at the Medical Oncology Service of the Hospital Quironsalud Torrevieja y Alicante, who recalls that this may be due to the fact that an important function of the pancreas is to produce insulin, a hormone that controls the amount of sugar in the blood.

As specified, in type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys the cells that make insulin in the pancreas; whereas in type 2 diabetes, the body does not use the insulin it produces properly.

“Years ago it was observed that patients with pancreatic cancer had elevated blood sugar levels, an average of three years before the appearance of cancer,” he points out. Likewise, he says that it was found that patients who exceeded 125 mg / dl of blood sugar had larger tumors.

To analyze this relationship in more detail, the ‘END-PAC’ algorithm was developed, as it continues, and through a point system applied to patients with diabetes, weight change, blood sugar level, and age were studied. when the diabetes started. “It was observed that they obtained a score greater than 3, which represented a 3.6-fold increase in the incidence of cancer three years after the onset of diabetes, compared to the population of the same age without diabetes”, the doctor details.

Common risk factors

Likewise, tumor cells depend more on blood glucose, as a source of energy, compared to healthy cells, while it is known that there are certain pro-inflammatory factors with a role in the development and advancement of tumors in people with diabetes. In addition, it emphasizes that, at the molecular level, “certain molecular insulin receptors have the ability to develop cancer cells and advance metastasis.”

On the other hand, the specialist from Quirónsalud Torrevieja and Alicante maintains that conventional medical treatment with Metformin, which is used for diabetes, reduces the risk and death from cancer, as observed in research.

It also highlights that the probability of suffering from cancer and diabetes increases with the following factors:

  • Age: the older a person is, the greater the risk of developing both diabetes and cancer.
  • Being overweight: there are more chances of developing diabetes and cancer with a Body Mass Index or BMI greater than or equal to 30.
  • Food: it can be an ally for health; That is why it is advisable to include less red meat and abundant pieces of fruit, as well as vegetables and cereals in our diet.
  • Bear in mind that smoking addiction can not only influence certain cancers but also diabetes, so it is totally advisable to quit tobacco.
  • Frequent consumption of alcoholic beverages can be very negative for your health, and can even cause some type of diabetes and certain cancers.
  • Attention to sedentary lifestyle! It is very important to stay physically active and it is advisable to exercise moderately, about five times a week, since it reduces the risk of suffering from these diseases by between 25 and 35%, especially tumors that originate in the breast, in the colon and endometrium.

Prevent both diseases

Ultimately, Dr. Rebollo emphasizes that diabetes is a “chronic and serious” disease that also increases the incidence of cardiac, vascular, kidney, ophthalmological pathologies and can even be the cause of early death. Moreover, it highlights that, once diagnosed, “many are the doubts that patients have, including the possibility of suffering from a tumor related to the pancreas in the long term.”

With this, he insists that there are several factors that can cause this tumor in the pancreas, such as genetics, belonging to the male sex, smoking and suffering from obesity, chronic pancreatitis and cirrhosis: “With the exception of genetics, these factors are related to a certain lifestyle, such as high caloric intake, an inappropriate diet, frequent and abusive consumption of alcohol, tobacco consumption, leading a sedentary life and, another factor to take into account, obesity “.

For this reason, both to prevent diabetes and pancreatic cancer it is important to introduce habits that are more suitable for health, for example, maintain an adequate diet, control weight, perform moderate exercise regularly, stop smoking and not drink alcohol. “In this way, patients with type 2 diabetes who manage to control sugar levels by natural means, also achieve that the incidence of pancreatic cancer is similar to that of people of their age without diabetes”, concludes the specialist.


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