There is a higher risk of having diabetes among certain types of cancer patients is the findings of a new study. The finding of the research was publicized through ‘Diabetes Care’ journal. 

In Denmark with a population of about 6 million people, most deaths are linked to cancer. Over 45,000 people were confirmed to have cancer in 2019 alone. Thankfully, the survival rate has improved significantly according to newer reports. However, the survivor’s quality of life is lowered by complications and prolonged effects. 

Researchers from University of Copenhagen’s Exercise and Sports, Rigshospitalet and Department of Nutrition, and Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen collaborated in the study to expose that diagnosis with cancer was linked to higher risk of having diabetes. 

The study leveraged CopLab Database special epidemiological data. CopLab is located in University of Copenhagen’s Center for General Practice.

According to the finding, some types of cancer have a higher chance of heightening the risk of diabetes than others. Leading the study is Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen’s Assoc Prof Lykke Sylow in collaboration with The National Center for Cancer Survivorship and General Late Effects (CASTLE)’s Prof Christoffer Johansen and CopLab Database’s Prof. Christen Lykkegaard Andersen. 

Sylow said, “Our research shows the risk of having diabetes is higher among patients with uterine, urinary tract, brain, breast, pancreatic, or lung cancer.”

The scientists worked with a large data set comprising of one-hundred and two blood samples supplied by 1.3 million Danes. Out of all the donors, over fifty thousand were later diagnosed with cancer. The study did not disclose why higher risk of diabetes is linked to some types of cancer. However, they laid the foundation for new studies. 

“It is possible that the higher risk of diabetes is linked to cancer therapies. Cancer on its own can impact all body parts. We are aware that cancer cells have the ability to secrete substances that impact organs and perhaps heighten the onset of diabetes. Animal studies proposed this,” Lykke Sylow said. 

Absence of diabetes increases survival

The chances of survival is lowered when patients diagnosed with cancer eventually develops diabetes, according to the study.

“Regardless of the type of cancer, patients live longer if they don’t develop diabetes in comparison to patients that develop diabetes,” Rigshospitale’s Prof. Christoffer Johansen said.

Generally, there was reported 21% excess mortality rate among cancer patients that develop diabetes. The study examined all forms of cancer but did not show how diabetes can impact survivability in each type of cancer. 

Preventive ideas and examination

Healthcare systems do not have a provision that mandates cancer patients to be examined for diabetes. If examining cancer patients for diabetes can increase their survival and quality of life, then it would be nice to incorporate it in the system.

“The findings of our study proposed the relevance of diabetes examination for cancer patients where we noticed heightened disease risk. For example, this should be done for patients with urinary tract cancer, uterine cancer, brain cancer, breast cancer, and lung cancer. Early intervention and treating diabetes can positively affect certain cancer patients,” Prof. Johansen said.

Assoc. Prof. Sylow concluded, “It’s a good idea to find out if examination assists cancer patients in terms of survivability and quality of life. Recommending various forms of exercises for cancer patients can serve as a preventive idea. However, my suggestions should be viewed in the long-term and requires further studies.”

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