Elevated blood glucose levels are associated with an increased risk of cancer overall. This is shown in a study of over a half million men and women in Europe, led by researchers at Umeå University. The study is published in the December issue of the journal PLoS Medicine.
The study displays that individuals with elevated blood glucose levels have a greater risk for cancer than individuals with health normal glucose levels. For every mmol/l increment of glucose, the incident of cancer was 11% greater among women, and 5% among men. The association was more significant in certain forms of cancer, such as in the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, and urinary bladder. On the other hand, high blood glucose does not increase the risk of prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer among men, which explains why the association is lower among men.
The study included 550,000 individuals from Sweden (Västerbotten County and Malmö), Norway and Austria, of which 79,000 are from health examinations in Västerbotten County in northern Sweden. The blood glucose levels of the participants were measured and after a mean follow-time of 10 years, 30,000 persons were diagnosed with cancer.
The study is the largest reported to date in the western world. The results are congruent with a similar study in Korea, which further strengthens the evidence.
“We still do not know for certain if the effect of high blood glucose directly causes cancer, or whether other factors are behind the association. We believe that a lifestyle that is beneficial for blood glucose control also reduces the risk of cancer,” says Tanja Stocks, project assistant at the Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Urology and Andrology, Umeå University.
The study was headed by Tanja Stocks and Pär Stattin at the Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences, Urology and Andrology, Umeå University.