If you have type 2 diabetes, listen up. Your risk of dying from cancer is significantly higher than the average person. It used to be felt this was isolated to those who were both overweight and had diabetes. Now, however, we have evidence that even normal weight individuals with diabetes are at increased risk of dying from cancer.
The study, presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), showed that men with diabetes were 22% more likely to die from cancer than men without diabetes. For women the risk was even higher, at 31%.
When broken down to “obesity related cancers” (such as breast, endometrial, colorectal, kidney etc.), men with diabetes were 84% more likely to die of cancer than matched controls without diabetes, while women were 47% more likely. The authors were not all that surprised by this finding.
They were surprised, however, to find that for non-weight related cancers (such as lung cancer), people with diabetes still had an increased risk of dying. The increase in risk was smaller, 6% for men and 18% for women, but it was surprising that even when patients maintained a normal weight, just the presence of diabetes increased the risk of death. This suggested a different potential mechanism may be increasing the risk.
Once again, that makes sense. Regardless of weight, chronic hyperinsulinemia and elevated glucose likely contribute to cancer cell growth, and elevated levels of IGF-1 may also serve as a cancer growth factor. These metabolic factors can be present even in normal weight individuals.
While this sounds like terribly depressing news, it may actually have a silver lining. If hyperglycemia, elevated insulin levels, and elevated IGF-1 contribute to cancer mortality, then measures that reduce those levels should likewise reduce the risk of dying. This is the rationale for treating cancer patients with keto nutrition and intermittent fasting. Now there is an even greater urgency to reverse diabetes with LCHF nutrition: to lower a patient’s risk of cancer mortality.
We know reversing diabetes will likely result in reduced risk of dying form cardiovascular disease. Now, we have even more reason to believe it will also reduce the risk of dying from cancer.
Thanks for reading,
Bret Scher, MD FACC