High blood sugar `raises cancer risk`

Updated: Jan 03, 2010, 00:00 AM IST

London: Too much glucose in the blood is
unhealthy, doctors have said for long. Now, a new study has
found that high blood sugar can raise the risk of developing
cancer, with women sufferers being the most vulnerable.

Scientists in Sweden have carried out the study and
found people, particularly the women, with high blood sugar
levels face a greater danger of developing cancer and die from
the disease as well.

"The results suggest that, for women, the higher
the level of sugar in the blood, the higher the risk. For men,
there was still an association, but it was weaker," Dr Tanja
Stock, lead scientist at Umea University, told `The Observer`.

For their study, the scientists examined blood sugar
levels in 274,126 men and 275,818 women from Norway, Austria
and Sweden with an average age of 44.8, then followed them up
a decade later to see how many developed or died from cancer.

According to the scientists, the study is significant
because it found the increased likelihood of cancer occurred
regardless of the participants` body mass index levels.

Though it does not prove that blood glucose of
itself leads to cancer, but it suggests that it might promote
tumour growth by acting as a source of fuel for tumour cells,
especially fast-growing, highly proliferative cells.

"Significant increases in risk among men were found
for incident and fatal cancer of the liver, gallbladder, and
respiratory tract, for incident thyroid cancer and multiple
myeloma, and for fatal rectal cancer.

"In women, significant associations were found
for incident and fatal cancer of the pancreas, for incident
urinary bladder cancer, and for fatal cancer of the uterine
corpus, cervix uteri and stomach," the scientists wrote in
the `Public Library of Science Medicine` journal.

Dr Panagiota Mitrou, Science Programme Manager at
World Cancer Research Fund which funded the study, said the
findings "raise the possibility that controlling blood sugar
levels may be a way to reduce risk of some cancers".

However, disagreed Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research
at Diabetes UK: "It would be wrong to conclude that high blood
glucose levels alone are causing the increase in cancer cases
and deaths. Nor can we say that, by controlling blood glucose
levels alone, we could lower the risk of cancer."

Added Dr Laura Bell of Cancer Research UK: "This is
an interesting study looking at blood-sugar levels and cancer
risk but it`s really only looking at one part of a complicated