A compelling new study in the diabetes journal Diabetologia is bringing into focus the connection between poor blood sugar/insulin control and increased risk of cancer. Doctor Yuli Huang, MD, PhD, from First People's Hospital in China and his colleagues found that prediabetes was associated with a 15% increased risk for cancer overall.
Prediabetes is when blood sugar levels rise above normal levels but have not yet reached the medical definition of the diabetic range. In truth, even if you are in the top end of the normal range of blood sugar levels, you may be showing early signs of dysfunction. Once you get outside the normal range, your blood sugar regulating hormone insulin is no longer as efficient at shuttling carbs/sugars into your cells, which then requires greater output of insulin by the body to make up for this inefficiency.
The term to describe this dysfunction is poor insulin sensitivity and it leads to chronically high blood insulin levels. Ideally, insulin levels should rise and fall efficiently after consuming food, however is you are overweight or out of shape your insulin sensitivity is likely poorer, resulting in consistently elevated blood insulin levels.
Insulin is a building hormone; it can build muscle, body-fat, or any other tissue. Cancer is when cells replicate uncontrollably, out of the normal pattern of cell building. A high insulin clinical picture combined with uncontrolled cell growth is the perfect recipe for the growth and spread of cancers. High insulin is also associated with weight gain and obesity is a key risk factor for cancer risk, something the study authors noted in their findings.
The study concludes with suggestions of adding new trials assessing the effectiveness of the diabetes and blood sugar drug metformin for reducing cancer risk. While this information may be worthwhile, there are already many tools at the disposal of doctors to correct blood sugar and insulin dysfunction and treat prediabetes.
Diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes are far and away the most profound factors that impact your ability to control your blood sugar and insulin sensitivity. There is a wealth of research showing that adopting a higher protein, higher fat, and lower carb diet can profoundly correct blood sugar and insulin dysfunctions. Add to the dietary changes a simple and effective exercise plan and you have all the tools required to better your health and reduce your disease and cancer risk.
Take control of your health; get your blood sugars and insulin checked annually and upgrade your diet and exercise plan to reduce your risk factors for chronic disease.
Until next time,
Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CISSN, CSCS