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World Cancer Day: Is type 2 diabetes linked to the risk of increased cancer mortality?

Having type 2 diabetes is a nightmare enough, and it can make matters worse for cancer patients. It can increases your chances of mortality.
Cancer patients need management beyond the traditional treatment. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Sushant Mittal Updated: 17 Oct 2023, 06:46 pm IST
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The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is on an increase in India. Patients with diabetes are more likely to develop and die from cancer, as per statistics. The link between type 2 diabetes and cancer mortality is a growing concern for public health, and it is important for individuals with this chronic condition to be aware of the potential dangers.

Read on to know more about the type-2 diabetes and how it increases the risk of cancer.

The link between type-2 diabetes and cancer mortality

According to several scientific studies, type 2 diabetes, characterised by high blood sugar levels, is associated with an increased risk of dying from cancer. A study followed over 200,000 individuals for over a decade and found that those with type 2 diabetes had a 13 percent higher risk of dying from cancer compared to those without the condition. The increased risk was largely due to higher incidence of liver, pancreas, and endometrial cancers.

Understanding the link between type-2 diabetes and cancer mortality. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

Another meta-analysis reviewed over 20 studies and found that individuals with type 2 diabetes had a 17 percent higher risk of dying from cancer compared to those without the condition. The analysis concluded that type 2 diabetes is associated with an increased risk of developing several types of cancer, including liver, pancreas, endometrial, colorectal, breast and bladder cancer.

How does diabetes increase cancer mortality risk?

The exact mechanisms underlying the link between type 2 diabetes and cancer are not yet fully understood, but several theories have been proposed. These include insulin resistance, oxidative stress, and chronic inflammation, which may contribute to the development and progression of cancer cells.

Insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes, can result in increased levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF) in the body, both of which are known to promote the growth of cancer cells. Oxidative stress, an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to neutralise them, is also linked to the development of cancer. Individuals with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for oxidative stress due to their high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Chronic inflammation, a persistent low-grade inflammation, is another factor linked to the development of cancer. People with type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk for chronic inflammation due to their high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.

It is also important to note that type 2 diabetes and cancer share several risk factors, including ageing, obesity, and physical inactivity, which can increase the risk of both conditions.

Here’s what you can do to control cancer risk. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Take precautions to manage type 2 diabetes

In view of these findings, it is essential that individuals with type 2 diabetes take steps to manage their condition and reduce their risk of cancer. This can include lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating a balanced diet. Regular cancer screenings and working with a healthcare provider to effectively manage type 2 diabetes are also crucial.

In conclusion, the link between type 2 diabetes and increased cancer mortality is a growing concern for public health. It is important for individuals with this chronic condition to be aware of the potential dangers and take proactive steps to manage their health. By maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating a balanced diet, individuals with type 2 diabetes can reduce their risk of both conditions and improve their overall health outcomes.

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Dr Sushant Mittal

Dr Sushant Mittal is the Associate Director of Oncology at Max Superfaciliaty Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi. Education & Training

  • DM (Medical Oncology), Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, 2013
  • MD (Internal Medicine), Bharti Vidyapeeth Medical College, Pune, 2008
  • M.B.B.S, Bharti Vidyapeeth Medical College, Pune, 2004
Memberships
  • Member of American Society of Clinical Oncology, (ASCO)
  • Member of European Society of Medical Oncology, (ESMO)
  • Member of DMC & MCI
  • Member of ISMPO & ICON
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