Diabetes may accelerate blood cancer myeloma.

Diabetes may accelerate blood cancer myeloma.

Diabetes May Accelerate Blood Cancer Growth, Study Finds


Diabetes, a chronic metabolic disorder affecting millions of people worldwide, has been found to potentially worsen the growth and progression of multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. Moreover, a recent study published in the journal Blood Advances highlights the disparities in survival rates among different racial groups affected by both conditions.

Multiple myeloma is a form of cancer that develops in the plasma cells of the bone marrow, making it the second-most common blood cancer in the United States. However, among Black adults, it is the most prevalent. On the other hand, diabetes affects approximately 13% of the U.S. population and its incidence continues to rise.

The study, conducted by researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, analyzed electronic health records of over 5,300 patients with multiple myeloma who were treated at two academic medical centers. The findings revealed that 15% of the patients had a diabetes diagnosis, with 12% being white patients and 25% being Black patients.

It was discovered that patients with multiple myeloma and diabetes experienced poorer survival rates compared to those without diabetes. However, when the data was broken down by race, it was observed that white patients with myeloma and diabetes had lower survival rates than those without diabetes, but this difference was not observed among Black patients.

Dr. Urvi Shah, the lead author of the study, remarked, “What we did not expect to see here was that diabetes was actually associated with worse survival outcomes among white individuals with myeloma, but not Black individuals.” This finding sheds light on the complexity of how diabetes interacts with multiple myeloma and the need for further investigation into racial disparities in health outcomes.

Interestingly, the study also revealed that diabetes was 50% more prevalent among Black patients between the ages of 45 and 60, compared to white patients over the age of 60. This disparity may be attributed to the fact that younger patients generally tolerate multiple myeloma treatments better than older individuals, which could explain some of the differences in survival rates among racial groups.

To gain further insights into the impact of diabetes on multiple myeloma progression, researchers conducted experiments using genetically engineered mouse models. They found that multiple myeloma tumors grew faster in non-obese diabetic mice compared to non-diabetic controls. Additionally, an overactivated insulin-related signal was discovered in the diabetic mice, suggesting that higher insulin levels associated with diabetes may accelerate cancer growth.

Based on these findings, Dr. Shah expressed the possibility of improving patient outcomes by simultaneously treating diabetes and multiple myeloma. Traditional multiple myeloma treatment often involves rounds of chemotherapy, but this study suggests that addressing diabetes alongside cancer treatment may further enhance patient outcomes.

Looking ahead, Dr. Shah hopes to identify therapies that can halt the development of multiple myeloma and regulate the overactive insulin signaling pathway in patients with both multiple myeloma and diabetes. Furthermore, she is exploring the potential benefits of making changes in one’s microbiome and diet to improve overall cancer outcomes.

It is crucial to recognize the importance of diagnosing and managing both diabetes and multiple myeloma together, especially among individuals from different racial backgrounds. By understanding the intricate interplay between these conditions and implementing targeted interventions, medical professionals can offer comprehensive and personalized care to patients, ultimately improving their quality of life.



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