Diabetes & Breast Cancer – What Can You Do?

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Eating smart, moving more and staying lean are actions we know can lower risk for many common cancers, including breast.

Now, new research presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium last week showed that having type 2 diabetes significantly increases risk for postmenopausal breast cancer. In the Swedish study, women over age 60 with diabetes had a 37 percent increased risk for developing breast cancer if their diabetes had been diagnosed up to four years before cancer was diagnosed. AICR has written about the Diabetes-Cancer Connection, so this new study adds to the data showing a link between the two diseases.

Excess body fat is one shared risk factor for diabetes and cancer, so there are steps you can take to lower your risk for both diseases.

Get an early start to your New Year’s resolutions by finding ways to fit in more physical activity and choosing smaller portions of higher calorie foods to help get to and maintain a healthy weight. And that way you’ll feel even better this holiday season. Look here for some great ideas: Learning How to Fit Moving Into Your Already Busy Day, and Holiday Recipes from the AICR Test Kitchen. (Spoiler alert! Regular household cleaning counts as activity…and did you know pudding can be healthy?)

What do you do to stay a healthy weight during the holidays?

New IOM Report on Environmental Links to Breast Cancer

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Today the US Institute of Medicine released a major report that weighs the scientific evidence behind breast cancer’s possible link to various environmental factors. The report, over two years in the making and conducted by independent experts sponsored by a breast cancer advocacy group, reaffirmed much of what is already known, and pointed up the need for more — and better targeted — research.

“We at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) welcome this report, which echoes AICR’s advice to focus on factors that have been clearly and convincingly shown to lower breast cancer risk — factors like eating smart, staying lean, moving more — and, of course, avoiding tobacco,” said AICR’s Director of Research, Susan Higginbotham, PhD, RD. “We know that many people are worried about other factors like air pollution, cosmetics, cleaning products and plastic food containers, but as the IOM report shows, we do not have solid scientific evidence that these factors affect human cancer risk.  More research is needed.” Read more… “New IOM Report on Environmental Links to Breast Cancer”

The Diabetes-Cancer Connection: Breast Cancer

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In September 2010, AICR published “The Diabetes-Cancer Connection” paper discussing the research on the link between these two diseases and how health professionals can counsel patients on lifestyle changes to lower risk of both.

Now several studies in the Journal of Clinical Oncology show how both type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance negatively impact prognosis in breast cancer patients. Those with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance do not fare as well as breast cancer patients who did not have those conditions.

An accompanying editorial discusses two simple procedures that health care providers should do for patients with breast cancer to improve outcomes.

1.            Measure waist circumference. This simple measure may point to metabolic syndrome associated with type 2 diabetes and related risk factors.

2.            Measure HOMA index (indicator of insulin resistance).

The authors of the editorial explain that with these measures, health care providers would be able to individualize a patient’s treatment to include diet and physical activity programs that are known to improve survival for many.

The editors give a call to action to integrate care of these two diseases:

“The time has come to overcome the conventional tunnel vision that results in two diseases being treated by separate clinicians, and to move towards a comprehensive approach that ideally integrates oncologists, internists, nutritionists, and other health care professionals in an attempt to improve breast cancer prognosis in a significant proportion of patients.” Read more… “The Diabetes-Cancer Connection: Breast Cancer”