Is there a Diabetes-Cancer Connection?

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Research shows that diabetes is associated with an increased risk of several types of cancer. In fact, diabetes is linked to 3 of the 5 leading causes of cancer mortality in the United States.  Scientists and health professionals now understand that diabetes care must also include attention to cancer risk.

AICR has just released a new background paper “The Diabetes-Cancer Connection.”  It details research of the risk of diabetes and cancer and discusses steps to prevent both conditions as well as specific strategies for lifestyle changes.

Here is a brief summary of what you can do to lower risk for both diseases:

1.            Get to and maintain  a healthy weight.  For people with pre-diabetes, a 7% weight loss has been shown to reduce risk of diabetes.

2.            Participate in regular physical activity:

o   A sedentary lifestyle contributes to risk of type 2 diabetes and for those with the disease, regular moderate exercise (30 minutes at least 5 times weekly) improves blood sugar control.

o   For cancer risk, engage in at least 30 minutes (with the goal of 60 minutes) of moderate physical activity daily to lower risk of several cancers, including colorectal, endometrial and postmenopausal breast.

3.            Healthy diet

o   Eat a mostly plant-based diet for high fiber and a wide range of nutrients and phytochemicals

o   Select appropriate balance of healthy fats and a diet lower in energy density

o   Choose appropriate serving sizes and limit red and processed meat consumption

o   If you drink alcohol, limit to 1 drink per day for women, 2 for men.

If you are a health professional, you can read the full AICR InDepth by Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN, by joining the Health Professionals and Educators eCommunity here.


Author: Alice RD

Alice G. Bender, MS, RDN, is the Director of Nutrition Programs at AICR. She helps put the science of cancer prevention into action 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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