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High BMI and diabetes estimated to result in nearly a million cancers a year worldwide

High BMI and diabetes estimated to result in nearly a million cancers a year worldwide / Photo via diabetes.co.uk

A study carried out by Imperial College London estimates that around 800,000 cancer cases worldwide in 2012 were attributable to the combination of being overweight and having diabetes.

Whilst this is tough news to take in, there is hope for people who meet these circumstances.

One of the most credible reasons why cancer is linked with being overweight and having type 2 diabetes (in particular) comes down to insulin. Cancer is abnormal growth of cells and insulin is a growth hormone.

Previous research has shown cancer to be much more likely in people showing high levels of insulin in their body. Steady weight gain and having type 2 diabetes are symptoms of high insulin levels in the body over a long period of time.

In here there is a silver lining. If you are overweight or you have type 2 diabetes, you can lower the amount of insulin in your body and this can help to reduce the risk of certain cancer types developing.

The researchers used data on 12 types of cancers gathered from 175 countries for the year 2012. They analysed the data matching people with diabetes against people without the condition, matching them by age group and gender. The same was done to compare people who were overweight with people of a healthy weight.

5.6 per cent of all cancers in 2012 were attributable to any type of diabetes and having a high BMI. This corresponded to 792,600 cancer cases.

Cancers attributed to diabetes and high BMI were nearly twice as common in women than in men. About half a million cancers were attributable to diabetes and high BMI in women compared to 300,000 cancers in men.

In men, liver cancer was the most common cancer attributable to diabetes and high BMI followed by colorectal cancer. In women, breast cancer was the most common form attributable to diabetes and high BMI followed by endometrial cancer (cancer of the uterus/womb).

Type 2 diabetes is much more prevalent than type 1 diabetes so, these findings will have more relevance to type 2 diabetes than type 1 diabetes. However, people with type 1 diabetes who are overweight should mindful of the increased risks of cancer too.

Taking steps to improve your lifestyle can help to reduce your risk of developing cancer. For easy-to-follow step-by-step guidance, join the award-winning Low Carb Program.

The study is published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology journal.

Originally published by Benedict Jephcote at Diabetes.co.uk

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