Managing Your Cancer and Diabetes Treatments

We were at the American Association of Diabetes Educators meeting last week in Indianapolis talking about the diabetes – cancer connection. AICR Nutrition Consultant Karen Collins, MS, RD, spoke about the research showing the link between type 2 diabetes and increased risk for many cancers at the conference.

This was a meeting for nurses, registered dietitians and other health professionals who work with patients with diabetes. Here is one of the most frequently asked questions that the health professionals were concerned with when it comes to working with their patients with type 2 diabetes.

How can people with type 2 diabetes who are also in treatment for cancer make sure they are getting the best care for both diseases?

People with type 2 diabetes and cancer often have their diabetes managed by a physician other than the oncologist managing their cancer treatment. Each doctor wants the best outcomes for the disease he/she is treating, and is not necessarily focusing on the other disorder. Yet the treatments for one disease may affect the other.

For diabetes management, keeping blood sugar in good control is important and insulin helps do that. Research suggests that some diabetes treatments such as insulin may stimulate cancer cell growth while at least one diabetes treatment, metformin, may actually act to limit cancer cell growth. This raises many questions about how controlling blood sugar may affect someone being treated for cancer. From the cancer perspective, some cancer treatments may wreak havoc on blood sugar control.

As a patient, one step you can take to ensure you have the best care is to make sure each doctor is aware of your other treatments. In some cases, for example, doctors may decide to leave blood sugar levels somewhat higher than your normal target and focus on cancer treatment, says Collins. Speak with nurses, registered dietitians or other health practitioners to help you coordinate your care.

The NCI has specific questions cancer patients may want to discuss with their doctor. For example, you may want to find out how the medications you are taking for diabetes affect your cancer treatment.

For information on diabetes medications and lifestyle, you can visit the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.

http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/treatments/

The National Cancer Institute also has people you can speak with to help answer your cancer-related questions at 1-800-4-cancer or at www.cancer.gov/global/contact.

 


Teens: Double the Diabetes, Increasing Later Cancer Risk

Almost a quarter of teens are now at risk of or currently have diabetes, suggests a new government study. Although these findings need to be confirmed, increasing numbers of type 2 diabetes means more teens face serious health problems, including increased risk of cancer, years in the future. The study by the Centers for Disease Control found that teen at risk of prediabetes or diabetes has risen sharply from 9 to 23 percent over the past decade.

The study, published today in the journal Pediatrics, also found that the percent of teens at risk for heart disease remained relatively constant but high over the past decade. Almost half of overweight teens had at least one risk factor for heart disease.

The study pulled data from almost 3,400 teens (ages 12 to 19) who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The national survey regularly collects data on diet, activity and health measures.

Researchers compared NHANES data from 1999 to 2008, also looking at data every two years in between. The measured risk factors for heart disease included high blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol. LDL – low-density lipoprotein – is the cholesterol commonly linked to heart disease. Continue reading


Don’t Just Sit There: The Case Against Sitting Gets (Even) Stronger

A new study adds to the mounting evidence that the kind of prolonged sitting most of us do every day is killing us. That’s the bad news.

The good news — which this new study in the journal Diabetes Care also demonstrates — is that simply breaking up those long hours of sitting with a little walking can help.

Last November, at AICR’s Research Conference, we highlighted exciting research that measured several common indicators of cancer risk (like insulin resistance, waist circumference and inflammation) and found that adding even brief activity breaks decreased these indicators in ways linked to lower cancer risk. Continue reading