A meta-analysis states that Diabetics, particularly women are said to be at a higher risk of cancer. Earlier studies had already determined a link between diabetes and cancer there was no clarity on the role of gender in the same. We all are aware of the bulging population of diabetics in India. As per statistics in 2015, over 400 million people had diabetes while over 17 million had cancer.
Researchers in a recent analysis based on the study published in Diabetologia earlier has worked on data of over 19 million people with type one or type 2 diabetes in 100 studies as well as data sets. The studies revealed that women with diabetes are at 27% higher risk of cancer while men are at 19% risk of cancer, which means that women have a 6% higher risk of cancer as compared to men.
Researchers even analyzed specific cancer types to check if women were at a higher risk and found that women were indeed at a higher risk in most cancers. These include cancers like leukemia, stomach cancer, kidney cancer, oral cancer to name a few. Women are at a 15% higher risk of leukemia, 14% higher risk of stomach cancer, 13% higher risk of oral cancer, and 11% higher risk of getting kidney cancer. However, men were at a 12% higher risk of developing liver cancer than women.
Although, the reason behind women diabetics having a higher risk of most cancers is yet not clear but the researchers have come out with a hypothesis on the same. Toshiaki Ohkuma, Lead Author and research fellow at the George Institute of Global Health in Australia said that as compared to men, women have a longer pre-diabetic period. The pre-diabetic period is a period where sugar levels are above normal levels but not high enough to be considered under type 2 diabetes. Further, a study of 2015 also revealed that women most likely skipped medicines of lowering blood sugar levels as compared to men. As the risk of cancer is associated with having higher blood sugar levels, and DNA damage, women with diabetes are at a greater risk of developing cancer than men as they have raised sugar levels for a longer period of time.
Hence, it is advisable that women with diabetes need to be careful about controlling their blood sugar levels besides doing regular cancer screening in order to detect cancer at earlier stages. A healthy lifestyle that includes a low sugar diet and a fitness regime coupled with timely health checkups can definitely go a long way in balancing sugar levels and reducing the risk of cancer as well.