Diabetes and obesity could make a person more vulnerable to certain types of cancers and the best way to counter the threat is to lose weight.
“Diabetes and obesity are associated with some types of cancer, including that of the pancreas, oesophagus and breast,” said Edwin Gale, professor of diabetes at Bristol University’s division of medicine. He was in the city to address a conference organised by Integrated Diabetes and Endocrinology Academy (Idea), Calcutta.
According to Gale, 40 per cent of these cancers are apparently caused by diabetes and obesity. “Diabetes and obesity leads to insulin resistance in the body that can cause cancer. The best way to reduce insulin resistance is weight loss,” he explained.
Insulin resistance is a physiological condition, where the hormone becomes less effective at lowering blood sugar. This might increase blood glucose levels above the normal range.
“Fat and muscle cells need insulin to absorb glucose. But in an insulin-resistant person, these cells fail to adequately respond to circulate insulin and blood glucose levels rise,” said a doctor at the conference.
Gale said an obese person had a 30 per cent increased risk of suffering from cancer than a person of normal weight.
“An obese person with diabetes is more susceptible to cancer than one who is not. Although the exact cause is not clear, the common belief is that insulin resistance is the underlying factor,” said Subhankar Chowdhury, head of endocrinology, SSKM Hospital.