Research finds that shared risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and cancer could lead to a better understanding of how these diseases could be prevented.
Tobacco and alcohol use, diet quality and physical activity were all reported as being shared risk factors, while obesity is considered a main contributor to all three.
These links were revealed by University of Colorado Cancer Centre investigator Tim Byers, MD, MPH at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2015.
Byers reported that researchers tend to overlook useful information on other diseases, and that knowledge of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease can offer useful information to researchers outside their respective disciplines.
“Understanding the similarities and differences in how these risk factors create cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease could aid the ways we prevent all three diseases. We tend to silo ourselves in our research, but there are a number of risk factors shared in these three diseases,” Byers said.
The World Cancer Research Foundation concludes that obesity is a major cancer risk factor, while the World Heart Foundation report that being overweight or obese causes 58 per cent of type 2 diabetes and 21 per cent of ischemic heart disease.
“Obesity leads to a chronic inflammatory state and circulating growth factors that have adverse effects on the heart, and can also contribute to the development of cancer. But we tend to study these things in isolatio, by disease and not by risk factor,” added Byers.
Byers believes collaboration between researchers in different areas of medical research could result in greater knowledge and understanding of how risk factors work in diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

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