The consensus report is published in the July/August issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
The experts found evidence of an association between diabetes and an increased risk of liver, pancreas, endometrial, colon/rectal, breast and bladder cancer. Interestingly, they found evidence that diabetes is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
"There's a strong consensus that there is a link between diabetes and cancer, and there are some very plausible biologic links," said the report's lead author, Dr. Edward Giovannucci, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. He said that insulin, and insulin-like growth factors, can promote some cancers, and that many people with type 2 diabetes have high levels of circulating insulin, sometimes for years before they're diagnosed with diabetes.
And, he said, there's definitely an overlap in some of the risk factors for both type 2 diabetes and cancer, especially obesity.
The panel also found research that suggests the commonly used type 2 diabetes medication, metformin, might offer users some protection against cancer. Giovannucci said this may be because the drug reduces insulin resistance and lowers the need for additional insulin, or that metformin may act on cells in other direct or indirect ways.
Giovannucci said that the most important message to take away from this research is the "profound effects that lifestyle changes can have on your risk of diabetes and your risk of cancer."
He said it's not always the most popular message, but to lower the risk of cancer, it's important to reduce your body weight, exercise, improve
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