By naturopath Margaret Jasinska
Heart disease is a concern for most diabetics, but did you know that cancer has overtaken cardiovascular disease as the biggest killer of both type 1 and type 2 diabetics? The majority of type 2 diabetics are taking cholesterol lowering medication and are concerned about their heart. It’s important to be aware of the risks of high blood sugar and elevated blood insulin. Both can act as fertilizer for cancer cells.
This finding comes from data out of the UK, but aligns with statistics in the US and Australia. The Imperial College London team compared data from 314,000 age and gender matched pairs of patients with and without diabetes. The researchers noticed there was an absolute decline in specific causes of death among those with diabetes. Fewer died from ischaemic heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The proportion of deaths caused by vascular disease (heart attacks and strokes) dropped from 44 percent to 24 percent during the study period. The proportion of deaths due to cancer increased from 22 percent to 28 percent in the diabetes group. The research was published in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.
A 2016 study published in the journal Diabetes Care showed that between 2000 and 2011, rates of all cause, cardiovascular and diabetes deaths, but not cancer deaths, declined significantly in Australian patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. According to Harvard clinical epidemiologist Assistant Professor Mingyang Song, enhanced cancer prevention measures should be considered for patients with diabetes, including early cancer screening as well as behavioural interventions.
Several earlier studies have shown that having elevated blood levels of insulin increases the risk of cancer and increases the aggressiveness of cancer. The majority of type 2 diabetics have high insulin, and type 1 diabetics often need to increase their use of insulin as the years go by and they become insulin resistant. You can ask your doctor for a blood test to check your insulin level. Clues that you might have elevated insulin include being a type 2 diabetic, having polycystic ovarian syndrome or carrying excess fat around your waist. We need some insulin but too much isn’t good because it makes cells grow. Insulin is a growth promoting hormone. That’s good if you’re a teenager or pregnant but bad if you’re trying to fight cancer. Other research has shown that women with type 2 diabetes are more likely to get diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age, when cancer tends to be more aggressive.