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Obesity, Diabetes Linked to Cancers
Date:12/7/2007

Studies find effects on breast, prostate and colorectal tumors

FRIDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity and diabetes -- risk factors so often linked to heart disease -- can also affect the incidence and severity of cancer, a collection of four new studies suggests.

The findings, presented Friday at the American Association for Cancer Research's Sixth Annual International Conference on the Frontiers of Cancer Prevention Research in Philadelphia, link weight gain and diabetes to a number of malignancies, including breast, prostate and colorectal cancer.

"All of these are consistent with what we would expect with the occurrence of each of these cancers or cancer survival," said Elizabeth Platz, associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Metabolic perturbations enhance certain cancers. Insulin and other hormonal factors influence cell growth and make cells multiply."

Women with diabetes have a 50 percent increased risk of developing colorectal cancer, according to the first study, by researchers at the University of Minnesota. The group, led by Andrew Flood, assistant professor of epidemiology and public health, followed more than 45,000 women enrolled originally in a breast cancer detection program for more than eight years.

The increased incidence of colorectal cancer remained significant after all possibly confounding factors were taken into account. While the reason for the increased risk is not known, Flood said it could be due to the elevated levels of insulin seen with diabetes.

High levels of insulin in diabetic women could explain a threefold higher risk of death from breast cancer, said the second study, by researchers at Yale University. They measured blood levels of C-peptide, a marker of insulin secretion, in women in a long-term study of breast cancer. Over an eight-year period, the women in the highest third of C-peptide levels had t
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