The Diabetes and Cancer Connection
Weight loss is typically one of the top New Year's resolutions made in America today, right along with healthier eating and getting more exercise. This makes perfect sense considering more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. This is a serious health crisis as obesity is linked to more then 60 chronic conditions including type 2 diabetes.
You know what else is linked to excessive weight? Developing breast cancer, particularly after menopause for women in the general population, and more research has been linking the two.
Surprisingly, the relationship between these two diseases may start years before you even realize it, in what doctors call the “pre-diabetic” stage. This is the phase just before type 2 diabetes sets in and is when your body is starting to becoming resistant to insulin.
While this post's main focus is on breast cancer, diabetes is actually associated with a 13 percent increase in ALL cancers.
And while obesity is not the only reason why insulin resistance may occur, it is certainly considered a leading cause.
For women that already have type 2 diabetes their risk for breast cancer can go up to as much as 20 -27%, according to sites like Susan G. Komen.
This link between diabetes and breast cancer is still be being studied. One cause thought to contribute to cancer, beyond the chronically high insulin and glucose associated with type 2 diabetes, is a state of low grade inflammation in the body. This same inflammation can be associated with obesity alone.
Researchers have begun to study the effects of a common diabetic medication known as “Metformin” , and found that women who were diabetic and taking metformin had a 25 percent lesser risk of developing breast cancer than non diabetic women who weren't taking the drug.
While this research continues, offering hope and insight into reducing the risk of breast cancer, what is equally powerful is that women can have good results by implementing some positive lifestyle changes on their own - without reaching for a pill first.
Many studies have shown that combining more daily physical activity and incorporating healthy eating habits into our lives, can impact our risk for breast cancer. Living an active lifestyle and maintaining an optimum weight, along with eating a mainly whole-foods plant based diet and stress management, all work to reduce the inflammation and metabolic environment that invites chronic diseases.
This holds true even for women with the BRCA gene mutation, who already have a much higher risk of breast cancer then the general population.
Obesity can likewise be a tipping factor for disease for them, and studies are suggesting that implementing these same lifestyle changes may decrease the likelihood of developing cancer for these women as well.
So as you work towards your goals this year remember the old adage still holds true: an ounce of prevention is indeed worth its weight in gold!