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Cancer risk increases with blood sugar

Up to one in six Britons with high blood-sugar levels faces a greater danger of developing cancer, according to new research

Up to one in six Britons with high blood-sugar levels faces a greater danger of developing cancer, according to new research.

The study is the largest reported to date in the western world and the results are congruent with a similar study in Korea and could mean that up to one in six Britons with high blood-sugar levels faces a greater danger of developing cancer.

Conducted by Umea University in Sweden, the findings indicate that excess blood sugar means someone could be more likely both to develop cancer and also to die from it. The study, which is published in the Public Library of Science journal, is significant because it found that the increased likelihood of cancer occurred regardless of the participants' body mass index levels.

Women were more vulnerable than men and high blood sugar is linked to a range of different cancers for each gender, the study found.

Dr Tanja Stock, the lead researcher, said: "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."

The findings are worrying because an estimated 10.1m people in the UK have high blood-sugar, largely as a result of unhealthy lifestyles, especially eating foods containing a lot of sugar, salt or fat.

The figure includes 2.6m diagnosed diabetics, 500,000 others who have the disease but remain undiagnosed, and a further seven million with pre-diabetes, a precursor to the full-blown condition.

The scientists at Umea University in Sweden 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 had developed or died from cancer. The research was funded by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).

4th January 2010

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