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Sunday, 3 January 2010

High blood sugar 'raises cancer risk'

Too much glucose in the blood is unhealthy, doctors have said for long. Now, a new study has found that high blood sugar can raise the risk of developing cancer, with women sufferers being the most vulnerable.

Scientists in Sweden have carried out the study and found people, particularly the women, with high blood sugar levels face a greater danger of developing cancer and die from the disease as well.

"The results suggest that, for women, the higher the level of sugar in the blood, the higher the risk. For men, there was still an association, but it was weaker," Dr Tanja Stock, lead scientist at Umea University, told 'The Observer'.

For their study, the scientists examined blood sugar levels in 274,126 men and 275,818 women from Norway, Austria and Sweden with an average age of 44.8, then followed them up a decade later to see how many developed or died from cancer.

According to the scientists, the study is significant because it found the increased likelihood of cancer occurred regardless of the participants' body mass index levels.

Though it does not prove that blood glucose of itself leads to cancer, but it suggests that it might promote tumour growth by acting as a source of fuel for tumour cells, especially fast-growing, highly proliferative cells.

"Significant increases in risk among men were found for incident and fatal cancer of the liver, gallbladder, and respiratory tract, for incident thyroid cancer and multiple myeloma, and for fatal rectal cancer.

"In women, significant associations were found for incident and fatal cancer of the pancreas, for incident urinary bladder cancer, and for fatal cancer of the uterine corpus, cervix uteri and stomach," the scientists wrote in the 'Public Library of Science Medicine' journal.

Dr Panagiota Mitrou, Science Programme Manager at World Cancer Research Fund which funded the study, said the findings "raise the possibility that controlling blood sugar levels may be a way to reduce risk of some cancers".

However, disagreed Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK: "It would be wrong to conclude that high blood glucose levels alone are causing the increase in cancer cases and deaths. Nor can we say that, by controlling blood glucose levels alone, we could lower the risk of cancer."

Added Dr Laura Bell of Cancer Research UK: "This is an interesting study looking at blood-sugar levels and cancer risk but it's really only looking at one part of a complicated picture."

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