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Doing cancer screening tests: Increased risk of diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes have a significantly increased risk of various types of cancer, such as colon cancer. The reason for this is probably, among other things, overweight and a permanently elevated insulin level. Specialists therefore advise diabetes patients to exercise regularly, to eat a balanced diet and to use the offers for early diagnosis examinations.
According to estimates, around seven million people in Germany are affected by type 2 diabetes. The disease can lead to numerous concomitant and secondary diseases such as cardiovascular diseases. In addition, diabetics have an increased risk of various types of cancer. Experts explain how this risk can be reduced.
A 30 percent increased risk of colon cancer
According to the non-profit organization diabetesDE - German Diabetes Aid, around 500,000 people in Germany are diagnosed with cancer each year, around 60,400 of them from colon cancer. Experts estimate that around 40 percent of all cancers could be avoided by a healthier lifestyle with more exercise.
As the organization said in a release, people with type 2 diabetes have a 30 percent increased risk of colon cancer. If there is also a familial colon cancer burden, the risk increases further.
In addition, the rate of fatal cases of colorectal cancer in the group of people with diabetes mellitus is higher than in people with healthy metabolism. The experts explain on their website that two possible causes of the increased risk of cancer are obesity, a permanently increased insulin level, low hormone levels and chronic inflammation.
Possible cause of the increased risk of cancer
"People with type 2 diabetes are 1.2-1.7 times more likely to have multiple cancers, including breast, bladder, pancreas and colon cancer," said Professor Dr. med. Thomas Haak, board member of diabetesDE - German Diabetes Aid and chief physician of the Diabetes Center Mergentheim in Bad Mergentheim.
A possible cause of the increased cancer risk in type 2 diabetes could be increased insulin levels for a long time, which in turn are often caused by insulin resistance.
The connection between type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer has been clearly demonstrated: "People who are overweight and have a large abdominal girth both have an increased risk of chronic metabolic disease and cancer," says the diabetologist.
Colon cancer does not cause symptoms for a long time
Colon cancer causes no symptoms for a long time and is therefore often only diagnosed at an advanced stage. According to the information, around 24,300 people die each year from the consequences.
As part of the German Cancer Congress 2020, experts from the University Clinic Magdeburg presented interim results of a prospective multicenter observational study that examines the influence of diabetes mellitus on morbidity, mortality and oncological results after an colon cancer operation.
Of the more than 9,000 operated patients, 20.5 percent had diabetes (without details of the type), of which 37.8 percent were treated with insulin. 79.5 percent of the study participants had no diabetes.
Compared to those with healthy metabolism, those with diabetes had higher complication rates after their surgery, a worse five-year survival rate and a lower five-year rate without relapse.
Lower cancer risk
People with diabetes can prevent cancer through exercise and a change in diet:
"Anyone who is physically active at least 30 minutes five times a week and pays attention to a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables will reduce excess weight and significantly improve their metabolism," explains Professor Haak. Eliminating alcohol and nicotine also lowers the risk of cancer.
“It is also important that people with diabetes regularly take the offered cancer screening tests.”
According to the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), women and men are generally legally entitled to participate in tests for the early detection of colon cancer from the age of 50.
People with an increased family risk are advised to discuss the individual risk situation with their doctor and to use early detection examinations that have been adapted accordingly.
Statutory and private health insurers cover the costs of the immunological test for hidden blood in the stool and the colonoscopy for the early detection of colon cancer. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.