A new study shows that women with diabetes face a higher risk of certain cancers, but this could be modified through treatment.
New research from The George Institute for Global Health investigated the risk associations between diabetes and cancer, and indicates that heightened blood glucose could lead to cancer-causing effects through DNA damage.
It was shown that diabetes increases cancer risk, which has been long been known among researchers, but of pertinence was the finding that women with diabetes were at greater risk of cancer than men.
Among the studies reviewed, the proportion of those with fasting glucose in the diabetic range (>6.9 mmol/l) was 2% for women and 3% for men.
The researchers believe that undertreatment in women could be a significant element behind these differences.
Improving lifestyle factors has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of certain cancers. Processed food has been linked with cancer and therefore following a real food diet low in processed food may help towards lowering the risk of some cancers.
“The differences we found are not insignificant and need addressing,” said study co-author Dr Sanne Peters. “The more we look into gender specific research the more we are discovering that women are not only undertreated, they also have very different risk factors for a whole host of diseases, including stroke, heart disease and now diabetes.”
The findings were based on 47 studies from countries including the USA, Japa, Australia, China and the UK and involved nearly 20 million people.
Women in the studies were particularly at greater risk of developing leukaemia, cancers of the stomach, mouth and kidney. In total, women were 27% more likely to develop a form of cancer compared with women without diabetes; this figure dropped to 19% in men.
“Historically we know that women are often undertreated when they first present with symptoms of diabetes, are less likely to receive intensive care and are not taking the same levels of medications as men,” added Dr Peters.
Lead author Dr Toshiaki Ohkuma said: “It’s vital that we undertake more research into discovering what is driving this, and for both people with diabetes and the medical community to be aware of the heightened cancer risk for women and men with diabetes.”
The findings have been published in the Diabetologiajournal.

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