Diabetes & Cancer: A Complex Relation & Risk Factors

Diabetes and cancer although not much spoken off in the same breadth, are one of the common complication impacting the world today. These days, the world’s population has been infiltrated with the diabetic cases much more than it was in the past. And with those diabetic cases, come forth the complication as part and parcel.

We here have been dealing with diabetes-related issues for long and have been providing information on the management and care for the diabetic patients out there. We’ve also looked into different cases and complications and sought their connection in between. Continuing in the same vein, we’ll be looking into the complex relation between diabetes and cancer in today’s entry of ours.

Read along as we seek answers for the ‘Diabetes and Cancer: A Complex Relation & Risk Factors’.

Table of Contents

What is Cancer?

Cancer refers to the collective disease where the body’s cells begin to divide and outgrow affecting the tissues surrounding the cells. It starts off by affecting the cells of the body and in turn leads to making those cells abnormal and damaged. It further continues the growth to become tumors leading to life-threatening cases.

As in the normal case, the body’s cells grow old and die with the newer cells taking its place. However, in the case of cancer, the old cells don’t die and instead cause complications. Cancerous cells are generally masses of tissues and are solid in nature. Although, in cases of blood cancer, no solid tumors are formed.

Is Diabetes related to Cancer?

Cancer is the 2nd largest cause of death while diabetes is the 12th largest cause of death worldwide. For over 50 years, clinical observations have been set up to find the intermediate relation between diabetes and cancer. Although conclusive evidence isn’t yet offered, there still remains an association between the two cases as diabetes puts a person at risk for cancer.

Diabetes and cancer

Diabetes puts the patient with cancer at a higher mortality rate than the non-diabetic ones. In fact, the relative risk of cancer in diabetic patients is often two-fold than the ones not suffering from diabetic cases. What the results have showcased is that diabetes puts a person at a risk of liver, pancreatic, colon, bladder and other forms of cancer.

Judging by the studies and evidence found around, people with diabetic cases are at a higher risk factor for cancer. With potential biologic links associated with diabetes and cancer, one cannot bow away from the fact that having diabetes may put the patient at a risk for developing different forms of cancer.

The Types of Diabetes and their relation to Cancer

Diabetes, as we know about, is majorly categorized as the Type 1 and Type 2 ones with gestational case seen only during the pregnancy period. And going by what we collected above, diabetic cases do relate to cancer in many ways. We here would be looking into the specific relation between cancer and the types of diabetes to know better about it.

Let’s start off with the Type 2 at first. We’ll let you know why we choose the type 2 down below.

a) Type 2 Diabetes and its relation to Cancer

  • According to the studies and several meta-analytic researches, some cases of cancer are more predominately seen in the Type 2 diabetes. The cases like pancreatic, endometrial and liver cancer are the foremost cases seen as a risk for diabetic patients. Furthermore, the risk of bladder, breast and colorectal cancer is also seen in a lesser risk capacity than the aforementioned ones in Type 2 diabetes.
  • The risks generally arise because of the high levels of insulin seen in Type 2 diabetic patients which promote the growth of tumors. Along with that the obese case common around in Type 2 diabetes is also a precursor for cancer risk.

b) Type 1 Diabetes and its relation to Cancer

  • As for the relation between type 1 diabetes and cancer, it isn’t as prominent as in the case of type 2 diabetes. However, type 1 diabetes is known to cause cancers like stomach and cervical ones.

The Common Risk Factors for Diabetes and Cancer

Diabetes and cancer do have common risk factors in them. These risk factors put a patient on the cusp of getting affected by either of diabetes or cancer in the long run. We’ll look to segment the risk factors down below for you.

a) Age

  • Although the chances of cancer aren’t much age specific, yet the risk for it rises with age. We’ve seen some cancer cases right during the childhood phase and the early adult period. But on a general note, many cancer-related cases is seen as the age passes by.

b) Sex

  • Sex does determine a few cases of cancer as some types of cancer are only prone to age. The likes of prostate cancer are generally seen in males while breast cancer affects women normally. However, men are more on the verge of risk for developing cancer than women.

c) Ethnic Issues

  • Certain biological factors like hormone levels and more can affect a person’s risk factors for cancer in the future. Even the diabetic cases differ from the socio-ethnic group.

d) Obesity

  • Obesity is one of a prime reason for causing diabetes and cancer to some extent. A person with a higher BMR than the normal range is prone to the signs of diabetes and cancer in the long run.

e) Alcohol and Tobacco Consumption

  • Alcohol and tobacco consumption may put an individual at a risk for developing diabetes and cancer later in life. Alcoholic indulgent is known to cause an imbalance in the blood sugar levels of the body. It also affects the liver and can cause liver-related cancer later. Smoking too is known to cause lung cancer and other issues later in life.

f) Diet and Physical Health

  • A proper diet paired with ample physical exercise will help maintain the body and health to the optimum state. Any negligence on its part will lead to an imbalance in health and will put an individual at risk for different complications.

Can Diabetes be caused by Cancer?

Cancer treatments use steroids and glucocorticoids which might cause difficulty in controlling the diabetes signs in your body. For patients suffering from cancer and diabetes both, treatment for cancer might cause an imbalance in the diabetic case of your body as the blood sugar becomes unstable in many cases.

As for the patients with cancer issue, the treatment procedure like chemotherapy and more might cause a spike in the blood sugar levels. As a precaution, many patients are given insulin intake prior to indulging in the treatment to help curb the increased blood sugar levels.

In a nutshell, the treatment methods for cancer can give rise to diabetic related issues like high blood sugar and more. Such instances, in the long run, may affect the patients’ health and may cause diabetes. However, the conclusive evidence of diabetes caused as a result of cancer is still unresolved.

Can chemotherapy cause high blood sugar?

Chemotherapy has been a common treatment means for cancer patients for a long time. Chemotherapy is known to help keep cancer in check and allows the patient a better cure. However, on the downside, the side effects of chemotherapy are known to cause high blood sugar levels in people.

Quite often in the chemotherapy session, a patient is given steroids so as to stop them from nauseating. These steroids are prone to causing spiked glucose levels in the body of a patient. For people with diabetic cases, proper insulin injections are needed to be used to help around with the high blood glucose levels later on.

Can you get Diabetes from Chemotherapy?

As we talked about in the above briefing, chemotherapy is known to cause raised blood glucose levels in the patients. These raised blood sugar levels may harm the patients who are diabetic in nature.

Steroids, part of the chemotherapy session also causes the blood sugar levels to rise up markedly, which is why insulin injections are prescribed along for diabetic patients. However, for those who aren’t diabetic, these steroids and chemotherapy can cause a rise in diabetic signs.

It’s not necessary that a chemotherapy session will give way to diabetes in a patient, but it will show the signs of diabetic pre-issues and if not managed for may cause diabetes in the long run.

Does having Diabetes affect my Cancer treatment?

To speak of in two words, the answer for this one would be ‘it does’. However, it’s not just about ‘it does’ but how it does too. We’ll further look into the reasons as to how having diabetes may affect your cancer treatment.

Diabetic patients have more of health problems than the rest and as a result, when someone with diabetic case alongside cancer shows up, multiple issues may come forth. Diabetic patients have lesser resistance remaining in their body to fight off the different pertaining issues like infections and later on.

As part of the cancer treatment, often blood sugar levels rise up high. In patients without signs of diabetes, these spiked blood sugar levels return to normal after a while. But in diabetic cases, the raised blood sugar levels need much more care to let them subdue.

It’s a reason why insulin injections are prescribed as part of the chemotherapy and steroids session in cancer treatment for diabetic patients. However, finding the right balance of insulin levels is quite a tough ask too.

The Bottom Line

Diabetes and Cancer, two most carnage of medical conditions affecting the world is not something to be messed around with. One should seek proper medical care and assistance in these cases to help them get better. Furthermore, always look to stay far away from the risk factors so you don’t fall out on the other side of the line.

That’s all from us on this one. We’ll be back with another one the next time. Stay safe and stay healthy.

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