Managing Diabetes, Preventing Cancer

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Type 2 diabetes has been in the news a lot this week with Paula Deen’s announcement that she has the disease. She joins 25.8 million Americans who have type 2 diabetes, a number that has been growing along with the number of overweight and obese Americans.

If you have type 2 diabetes you know that you can manage it with diet, exercise, weight management and medications to keep blood sugar levels in a healthy range. That’s important to lower risk of complications including cardiovascular disease.

It’s an important part of lowering your risk for cancer, too, because changes that occur in the body due to diabetes and high blood sugar can also promote cancer development. Research shows a connection between type 2 diabetes and risk of several cancers, including colon, endometrium and postmenopausal breast.

The good news is you can take action to lower risk for both diabetes complications and cancer.

Here is an excerpt from the take home message from AICR’s InDepth paper “The Diabetes-Cancer Connection.”  For health professionals who would like to read the entire InDepth or sign up for our upcoming webinar on this subject, you can log in (or if not a member, sign up) to the HPE eCommunity here.

What you can do:

Weight: Excess body fat is strongly related to risk of both diabetes and cancer.

For diabetes control: if overweight, 5 to 10 percent weight loss

For cancer prevention: maintain weight within normal range from age 21; avoid weight gain and increases in waist circumference throughout adulthood

Physical activity: Lowers risk both directly and through promoting weight management benefit.

For diabetes control: at least 30 min/5x per week of moderate to vigorous intensity; working up to more to improve weight management

For cancer prevention: at least 30 min/day moderate intensity; as fitness improves aiming for at least 60 min/day moderate or at least 30 min/day vigorous intensity

Diet: Emphasis on minimally processed, fiber-containing plant foods supports lower risk ofdiabetes and cancer through a variety of means.

For diabetes control: Reduce calories and dietary fat for weight loss as appropriate; dietary fiber intake of 14 g fiber/1,000 calories, including foods containing whole grains.

For cancer prevention: a mostly plant-based diet from a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, limiting energy-dense foods and “fast foods,” and avoiding sugary drinks, while limiting red meat and avoiding processed meat. Alcohol, if consumed, should be kept in moderation.



    Author: Alice RD

    Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, is the Director of Nutrition Programs at AICR. She helps put the science of cancer prevention by providing tips and tools to choose nutritious and delicious foods. Alice has guided thousands of individuals to healthier lives through diet changes and choices.

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