Affecting millions of Americans each year, diabetes poses numerous and significant health risks. And, research examining the correlation between diabetes and cancer has discovered a potential link between the two diseases.
Doctors have found those who have type 2 diabetes may also be at risk for cancer, as people with the blood disorder are twice as likely to get liver, pancreatic, uterine and bladder cancer, and are up to 50 percent more likely to develop colorectal and breast cancer. Fortunately, reducing the risk for both type 2 diabetes and cancer is possible through healthful living.
Scientists are not certain of the exact cause-and-effect relationship between type 2 diabetes and cancer. However, the two diseases share many similar risk factors, including:
- Age – The risk for both type 2 diabetes and cancer rises with age.
- Gender – Cancer occurs more often in men, and men also have a slightly higher risk of type 2 diabetes compared to women.
- Race/ethnicity – African Americans and non-Hispanic whites are more likely to develop cancer. African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics/Latinos and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Overweight/obesity – Overweight and obesity increase the risk for type 2 diabetes and other cancers, such as esophageal, stomach, colorectal, liver, gallbladder, pancreatic, breast, uterine, ovarian, kidney, thyroid, multiple myeloma and meningioma (a benign brain tumor).
- Inactivity – Higher physical activity lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes and cancer.
- Smoking – Smoking causes cancer and is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
- Alcohol – Drinking more than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men raises the risk for both type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Research has also shown that metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of obesity, high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, elevated triglyceride levels and low HDL cholesterol levels, causes high insulin levels and inflammation, both of which are associated with the growth of cancer as well as diabetes.
Like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, some forms of cancer are billed as lifestyle diseases, because they can be modified by maintaining healthy weight, getting regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, limiting alcoholic drinks and not smoking. For both active and non-active people, it’s also important to undergo regular doctor-approved cancer screenings.
NewYork-Presbyterian’s Cancer Centers provide high-quality, comprehensive cancer care at convenient locations throughout the New York metropolitan area, Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley in state-of-the-art, comfortable environments. Board certified medical oncologists collaborate with a multidisciplinary team to provide each patient with an individualized plan of care. To find a location in your area, visit nyp.org/cancerlocations.
NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the largest and most comprehensive hospitals in the nation, ranked New York’s No. 1 hospital for the 16th consecutive year, and No. 6 in the United States, according to U.S. News and World Report. Affiliated with two academic medical colleges – Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medicine -- NewYork-Presbyterian brings together internationally recognized researchers and clinicians to develop and implement the latest approaches for prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center is one of only three NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in New York State. NewYork-Presbyterian provides comprehensive cancer care at all of our locations across the New York Metro area including Westchester County and the Hudson Valley. Learn more at nyp.org/cancer.