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Scientists Tease Out Links Between Diabetes, Cancer
Date:6/16/2010

Does the blood sugar disease help cause malignancy, or just share common risk factors?

WEDNESDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- People with diabetes may have something else to be concerned about -- an increased risk of cancer, according to a new consensus report produced by experts recruited jointly by the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association.

Diabetes, primarily type 2 diabetes, has been linked to certain cancers, though experts aren't sure if the disease itself leads to the increased risk or if shared risk factors, such as obesity, may be to blame.

Other research has suggested that some diabetes treatments, such as certain insulins, may also be associated with the development of some cancers. But the evidence isn't conclusive, and it's difficult to tease out whether the insulin is responsible for the association or other risk factors associated with diabetes could be the root of the link.

"There have been some epidemiological studies that suggest that individuals who are obese or who have [high levels of insulin] appear to have an increased prevalence of certain malignancies, but it's a complex issue because the association is not true for all cancers," explained Dr. David Harlan, director of the Diabetes Center of Excellence at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, and one of the authors of the consensus report.

"So, there's some smoke to suggest an association -- but no clear fire," he added.

As for the possible insulin-and-cancer link, Harlan said that because a weak association was found, it's definitely an area that needs to be pursued further. But, he said, that doesn't mean that anyone should change the way they're managing their diabetes.

"Our greatest concern is that individuals with diabetes might choose not to treat their diabetes with insulin or a particular insulin out of concern for a malignancy. The risk of di
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