According to Israeli researchers at Tel Aviv University, who lead by Dr Gabriel Chodick, a new study has found that Type 2 diabetes has a positive effect on reducing the rate of prostate cancer in men however it may double the risk of certain cancers in women. However it is one of the largest to confirm these findings and it is also the first to determine the statistical differences in cancer risks for men and women.
The research involved 16,721 people with diabetes and began in 2000. None of the participants had a history of cancer. Over the next 8 years, the researchers noted 1,639 cases of different cancers among the group and compared them to occurrences of the same cancers in a healthy, non-diabetic population of 83,874.
This study is good news for men. It demonstrates that diabetes appears to have a preventative effect on conditions like prostate cancer, reducing the risk of cancers associated with insulin-like hormones by 47%.
However the opposite is true for women. “The interaction of diabetes and female hormones appears to exaggerate the risk and make certain organs like the uterus and ovaries more receptive to certain kinds of cancer,” Dr Chodick explained.
While the news is something for women with diabetes and their doctors to take into consideration, there is no cause for panic, he emphasised. Although colon and ovarian cancers are serious, their overall risk in women is generally quite low.
However, he stressed that doctors should take the research into account when assessing the long-term health histories of their patients. He also said that women with diabetes should be screened for colon cancer earlier and more often than those in the general population.
“Of course, wherever possible, the best approach is to avoid diabetes entirely with the help of a high fibre, low carbohydrate diet combined with exercise,” Dr Chodick added.