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Study Links Diabetes With Certain Types Of Blood Cancer


Diabetes And Certain Types Of Blood Cancer

Researchers from The Miriam Hospital have discovered, after a meta-analysis, that patients with diabetes type 2 are more likely to develop hematological cancers such as leukemia, myeloma or lymphoma.

Researchers reviewed 26 previously published studies aiming the relationship between type 2 diabetes and hematological cancers . It is known that type 2 diabetes mellitus may alter the health of the patient due to cardiovascular and renal complications. Also, diabetes mellitus was connected with certain types of cancers such as pancreatic cancer and liver cancer.

The study published recently in the American Society of Hematology Blood journal, diabetic patients have a 20% higher risk of developing lymphoma, leukemia or myeloma. Scientists also discovered that there is a link between the geographical area and the risk of developing these type of cancers. Thus, the incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma is higher in Asia and Europe, while for leukemia, the incidence is higher in America and Asia.



Further studies must be conducted as researchers have not yet found a clear explanation. Lead author Jorge Castillo, MD, a hematologist / oncologist with The Miriam Hospital, noted that next studies should  focus on risk factors of diabetes and cancer, such as obesity, smoking and physical inactivity.

One explanation given by scientists would be that diabetes alters the  immune function. Also, this disease is associated with chronic inflammation. Therefore, these disorders induced by diabetes could be involved in the development of lymphomas and leukemias. Diabetes mellitus type 2 is a polygenic disease. However  the most important feature is hyperglycemia (increased blood glucose level) due on the one hand to high intake of carbohydrates and on the other hand due to insulin deficiency, a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Therefore, type 2 diabetes correlates with insulin resistance. Insulin has an important role in regulating blood sugar, as it is a hypoglycemic hormone, that promotes entry of glucose into cells. When insulin deficiency occurs, there is an increase in blood glucose. Usually, diabetes occurs in people with pre-existing insulin deficiency. The 3 typical symptoms of diabetes are polyuria, polyphagia and polydipsia. Untreated, diabetes leads to vascular complications (favoring the process of atherosclerosis), renal complications and ocular complications (blindness). It should be noted that diabetes is a chronic condition, uncurable by modern medicine  and that these complications occur after many years of disease evolution. As it is a disease mostly connected with lifestyle, diabetes can be prevented. “So by preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes, we could also prevent blood cancer.”, said Dr. Castillo.