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That Sweet Tooth Could Lead to Increased Cancer Risk

Update Date: Feb 01, 2013 02:39 PM EST

By now, we all know that obesity raises a person's risk to develop type-2 diabetes. Indeed, obesity and diabetes have become an expanding growing health concern. However, what many people do not realize is that diabetes also elevates the risk for certain cancers, particularly breast, colorectal and prostate cancers, with diabetic patients having up to double the risk of suffering from colon or prostate cancer than non-diabetic people. Researchers believe that elevated risk comes from the increased presence of sugar in the blood supply. They believe that elevated amounts of sugar can lead to cell damage and, ultimately, cancer.

The study was conducted by researchers from the King Juan Carlos University and the National Center of Microbiology in Spain. Their study found that increased blood sugar levels increase a cell mechanism that boosts the likelihood of cancer. They studied a particular protein called beta-catenin, which controls intestinal cells' ability to produce a hormone called GIP. Excess sugar can cause increased production of beta-catenin. That increased production, in turn, can cause many cells to become immortal, which is often the first step in the development of many cancers.

Fortunately, researchers do not believe that it is impossible to turn back the cellular tide. "We were surprised to realize that changes in our metabolism caused by dietary sugar impact on our cancer risk. We are now investigating what other dietary components may influence our cancer risk. Changing diet is one of easiest prevention strategies that can potentially save a lot of suffering and money," Dr. Custodia Garcia-Jiménez said in a statement.

According to the World Health Organization, 500 million men and women are obese - a statistic that has doubled since the year 1980. A whopping 63 percent of deaths today are from non-communicable deaths, of which diabetes and cancer both appear in the top 5.

The study was published in the journal Molecular Cell.

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