Postmenopausal Women with Type 2 Diabetes Have Higher Risk for Breast Cancer

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • Here’s another reason for menopausal women to concentrate on making lifestyle changes in order to avoid type 2 diabetes. Several new studies found that having this condition increases the chance of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

    One study, which is published in Cancer Causes and Control, involved 52,657 women who had type 2 diabetes and 30,210 women who didn’t have diabetes. The researchers then tracked who developed breast cancer as well as whether taking diabetes medication altered the risk of breast cancer. Their analysis found that postmenopausal women who had diabetes faced a 12-percent greater risk of developing breast cancer than postmenopausal women who did not have diabetes. Furthermore, diabetes medications were found to have no effect on lowering the risk of breast cancer, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

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    Another study published in the British Journal of Cancer, analyzed 40 separate studies involving 56,000 women who had breast cancer in order to identify any potential link between breast cancer and diabetes. They found that post-menopausal women who had Type 2 diabetes had a 27-percent increased risk of breast cancer. Interestingly, researchers didn’t identify any links for premenopausal women or for women who had Type 1 diabetes. The BBC story noted that researchers hypothesize that being overweight, which is often associated with Type 2 diabetes, may affect hormone activity that leads to cancer growth.

    So let’s identify what type 2 diabetes is. Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Some groups – African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and the aging population – are more at risk for developing this disease.  In this disease, the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin (which is necessary to help the body use glucose for energy) or the cells ignore the insulin. “When you eat food, the body breaks down all of the sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in the body,” the ADA reports. “Insulin takes the sugar from the blood into the cells. When glucose builds up in the blood instead of going into cells, it can lead to diabetes complications.”

    But does going through menopause make it more likely that a woman is going to develop type 2 diabetes? No. “A team of researchers from the University of Michigan reported in the journal Menopause that the life change actually has very little impact on a woman's chances of developing type 2 diabetes,” reported. “Furthermore, the marginal increase in risk can be readily overcome through diet and exercise.” However, the combination of diabetes and menopause can really affect your body. The Mayo Clinic notes that this combination can lead to changes in blood sugar level, weight gain, infections, sleep problems, sexual problems,

    There are ways you can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes or prevent complications if you have been diagnosed with this condition. The Mayo Clinic recommends three lifestyle changes:

    • Opt for healthy foods – especially fruits, vegetables and whole grains – that are low in fat and calories. In addition, try to consume at least 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume since fiber has been found to help control blood sugar levels.
    • Exercise at least 30 minutes daily. This should be moderate physical activity, such as taking a brisk walk. If you can’t do 30 minutes at one time, you can do several shorter sessions several times a day.
    • Lose weight. Just dropping between 5-10 percent of body weight can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

    By making these simple changes, you can not only feel better, but also prevent type 2 diabetes and thereby lower your risk of breast cancer.

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    Primary Sources for This Sharepost:

    American Diabetes Association. (nd). Type 2.

    BBC News Health. (2012). Diabetes link to breast cancer in post-menopausal women. (2011).  Menopause plays no role in type 2 diabetes risk.

    Mayo Clinic. (2012).  Diabetes and menopause: A twin challenge.

    Mayo Clinic.  (2012). Type 2 diabetes.

    Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. (2012). Diabetes linked to higher risk of breast cancer.

    Redaniel, M. T. M., et al. (2012). Associations of type 2 diabetes and diabetes treatment with breast cancer risk and mortality: a population-based cohort study among British women. Cancer Causes & Controls.

Published On: September 25, 2012