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Elevated blood sugar levels are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, according to a study led by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.
The Einstein study involved women who were enrolled in the National Institutes of Health's landmark Women's Health Initiative study. For these women, fasting blood sugar and insulin levels had been measured at baseline (i.e., the start of the study) and then several more times over the next 12 years.
By the end of the 12-year period, 81 of the women had developed colorectal cancer. The researchers found that elevated baseline glucose levels were associated with increased colorectal cancer risk—and that women in the highest third of baseline glucose levels were nearly twice as likely to have developed colorectal cancer as women in the lowest third of blood glucose levels. Results were similar when the scientists looked at repeated glucose measurements over time. No association was found between insulin levels and risk for colorectal cancer.
Obesity—usually accompanied by elevated blood levels of insulin and glucose—is a known risk factor for colorectal cancer. Researchers have long suspected that obesity's influence on colorectal cancer risk stems from the elevated insulin levels it causes. But the Einstein study suggests that obesity's impact on this cancer may be due to elevated glucose levels, or to some factor associated with elevated glucose levels.
"It's possible that elevated glucose levels are linked to increased blood levels of growth factors and inflammatory factors that spur the growth of intestinal polyps, some of which later develop into cancer" said Geoffrey Kabat, Ph.D., a senior epidemiologist at Einstein and lead author of the paper.
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The above story is extracted by The Zestfulness Team from materials in the Albert Einstein College of Medicine news release of November 29, 2011
The article has been published in the online edition of British Journal of Cancer: G C Kabat, M Y Kim, H D Strickler, J M Shikany, D Lane, J Luo, Y Ning, M J Gunter, T E Rohan. A longitudinal study of serum insulin and glucose levels in relation to colorectal cancer risk among postmenopausal women. British Journal of Cancer, 2011; DOI: 10.1038/bjc.2011.512
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