Cancer, Diabetes and Heart Disease: A Paradigm Shift

Patients with type 2 diabetes need to make a paradigm shift, and their doctors and other health providers can help them, according to AICR nutrition consultant Karen Collins, presenting yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.

Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer form a “triad of disease” says Collins. These three diseases share many common risk factors such as obesity, inflammation and insulin resistance, so we can’t think of them in isolation. How patients manage these diseases through lifestyle changes can help each of these diseases and lower risk for all three.

For example, people with type 2 diabetes often focus only on blood sugar control as the way to manage their disease, but that singular focus may not always lead to better overall health. High levels of insulin seem to promote some cancers, so using more and more insulin to manage blood sugar may, in the long run, increase cancer risk.

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Fruit: Fighting Diabetes and Cancer

There are a lot of health reasons we should expand the “apple a day” adage, such as for cancer prevention. A large study published last week now suggests that adding pears, blueberries and other fruits to your diet may also lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.

This study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at whether plant substances called dietary flavonoids link to risk of type 2 diabetes in adults. Their data came from 3 large U.S. studies, which together total about 200,000 participants followed for at least 2 decades..

Researchers looked at participants’ food questionnaires, completed every four years to determine how much of these different flavonoids they consumed. They found that the type called anthocyanins were associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Continue reading

Lower Diabetes (and Cancer?) Risk: Less Meat; More Nuts

Hot dogs have made headlines recently for increased cancer risk, now a large new study suggests consuming too many processed meats and red meat overall increases type 2 diabetes risk. But substituting a serving of nuts, whole grains, or low-fat dairy for a serving of red meat daily may lower that risk.

The study by Harvard researchers is one of the largest of its kind, strengthening earlier data on processed meat and increased type 2 diabetes risk. It was published online yesterday in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The study results on meat also mirror key findings related to colorectal cancer risk, adding to the evidence that many lifestyle habits for cancer prevention also prevent type 2 diabetes.

In the Harvard study, researchers pulled data from approximately 200,000 diabetes-free health professionals who were participants of three different studies. At the study entry and every two years, participants filled out questionnaires about their diet and other lifestyle practices. One group was tracked for 20 years; a second group for 28 years; and the third for 14 years.

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