Is Cancer Linked With Poor Blood Sugar Control?

For some time Type 2 diabetes has been linked with cancer in the pancreas as well as several other types of cancer. It should come as no surprise poorly controlled blood sugar levels are linked to pancreatic cancer and to a lesser extent, different kinds of cancer. That was the conclusion drawn by a group of scientists who were studying Type 2 diabetes and cancer at Sheba Medical Center in Israel and several other research facilities in Israel and the United States.

Their study, reported on in October of 2018 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, included 440,000 participants diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and aged between 21 and 89. The risk of developing the following types of cancer was compared with HbA1c levels throughout eight years…

  • pancreatic,
  • colon,
  • breast,
  • lung,
  • prostate,
  • the liver, and
  • all sites.

In 26,887 or 6 percent of the participants, cancer was diagnosed. For most sites, there was a weak link between HbA1c levels and a cancer risk, but the pancreas was an exception. In those Type 2 diabetes participants with high HbA1c levels, there was a 26 to 51 percent higher risk of developing cancer in their pancreas.

From the above results, the researchers suggested early signs of cancer in the pancreas could result in high HbA1c levels. Further research could solve the cause and effect dilemma.

A study where people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes were to be screened for pancreatic cancer, they needed to be cancer-free on enrollment for the study. Then they could be rechecked for any sign of pancreatic cancer from time to time, and their risk of developing the disease could be compared with their HbA1c levels.

Whether Type 2 diabetes causes pancreatic cancer or whether pancreatic cancer causes Type 2 diabetes, people with Type 2 diabetes should be aware of the signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer…

  • a persistent low-grade fever without an apparent cause,
  • tiredness,
  • a poor appetite,
  • weight loss without a known cause,
  • abdominal or back pain,
  • dark urine,
  • yellow skin and whites of eyes,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • gallbladder enlargement,
  • liver enlargement, and
  • blood clots.

According to the American Cancer Society, pancreatic cancer is age-related…

  • the vast majority of sufferers are over 45, and most are 65 or over.
  • the average age of diagnosis is 71.

Being overweight, being obese, smoking, being exposed to a specific chemical used in dry cleaning, and metalworking, all raise the risk.

Pancreatic cancer can sometimes be cured surgically if it is detected early. When surgery is not an option, chemotherapy is the next line of treatment.