Cancer Sufferers With Diabetes Have Poorer Outcomes
Cancer and diabetes are two of the most common serious diseases in the first world today. A piece of research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2008 has reported that cancer patients who already suffer from diabetes have a greater chance of dying from it, as compared to those who do not have the condition.
The study team had conducted a meta-analysis by going through available research and picking 23 well-designed studies which looked at cancer patients who suffered from diabetes at the point of diagnosis. This kind of analysis can spot problems which single studies usually cannot.
In gist, the study team found that those who had diabetes had 1.4 times the risk of dying from their cancers. While mortality was higher for many different kinds of cancer, only three displayed statistical significance – breast, colorectal and endometrial cancers.
Other research had previously shown that diabetes sufferers are more likely to get cancer in the first place. The reason could be obesity, with many people with type 2 diabetes being obese and obesity being linked to higher risk for certain cancer types.
“It’s something that is hiding in plain sight. Diabetes is very common, cancer is very common, but no one had really thought to organize the literature and see it,” said Frederick Brancati, M.D., a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
Why the link?
According to the study team, there are a few possible explanations. For example, the diabetes condition may accelerate tumor growth; one possibility is high blood sugar levels. Or diabetics may be more susceptible to infections, which raises post-surgery mortality risk.
Other possible reasons they postulated included the possibility that doctors administer less aggressive conventional cancer treatments due to diabetics also suffering from other ailments such as heart and kidney disease; diabetics being diagnosed with cancer later because their doctors are busy treating other health issues; diabetes treatment being neglected due to the cancer diagnosis; or people with diabetes having a higher mortality risk overall anyway.
Another possible theory – pancreatic enzymes and cancer
In one particular “alternative” theory about cancer, it is believed that cancer cells can proliferate when the pancreas is not functioning well. This is because certain pancreatic enzymes (or digestive enzymes, such as pancreatin) digest or “melt” the protein layer surrounding cancer cells, after which the body’s immune system is easily able to destroy them.
These same enzymes are also required to digest meat. Thus, in many types of “alternative” or nutrition-based cancer protocols, vegetarian diets, or at least a reduction in meat consumption, are advocated.
Now, when the pancreas is not functioning well, there is a shortage of these enzymes. Note that diabetes is also a condition whereby the pancreas is malfunctioning – being unable to produce enough insulin. Could that be the link?
While we cannot pinpoint the exact link between cancer and diabetes, we do not think it is necessary at all. Chronic degenerative diseases have their root causes in the same things – lifestyle and dietary habits, environmental toxins, etc. With the right living habits, one would most likely get neither cancer nor diabetes in one’s lifetime.
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