Type 2 Diabetes linked to higher risk of Endometrial Cancer.

Type 2 Diabetes linked to higher risk of Endometrial Cancer.

The Relationship Between Type 2 Diabetes and Endometrial Cancer

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endometrial cancer

Aug. 17, 2023 – Endometrial cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer, affecting thousands of women in the U.S. each year. However, recent research suggests that having type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of developing and dying from endometrial cancer.

A study conducted in the United Kingdom revealed that women with type 2 diabetes face a 1.5% higher risk of dying from endometrial cancer. This is concerning since gynecological cancers, including stage I endometrial cancer, are usually treatable through surgery.

Understanding the Risk Factors

Several risk factors contribute to the development of endometrial cancer. These include a family history of the disease, obesity, early menstruation, late menopause, nulliparity (never having been pregnant), a history of breast or ovarian cancer, and the use of hormonal replacement therapy. Additionally, carrying a specific gene mutation known as Lynch syndrome places a woman at high risk.

People with type 2 diabetes have been found to have a worse prognosis and lower survival rates when diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Studies conducted in China suggest that this could be due to the presence of high glucose levels, which promote the growth and invasiveness of cancer cells, a characteristic of type 2 diabetes.

“Type 2 diabetes is associated with a phenomenon called insulin resistance. This occurs when the body no longer responds effectively to insulin, resulting in higher insulin production to regulate sugar usage,” explains Dr. Christina Annunziata, a medical oncologist and senior vice president for extramural discovery science at the American Cancer Society.

diabetes

Furthermore, research conducted in the United Kingdom found that women with type 2 diabetes have a 62% higher chance of developing endometrial cancer. Their insulin resistance encourages the growth of cancer cells within their bodies.

Although endometrial cancer is more commonly diagnosed in older women, the average age of patients in this study was 66. This highlights the need for extra vigilance among older women with diabetes regarding their risk of developing endometrial cancer.

Identifying the Symptoms

Recognizing the symptoms of endometrial cancer and type 2 diabetes is crucial for early detection and successful treatment. Common symptoms of endometrial cancer include abnormal uterine bleeding, such as spotting or bleeding after menopause or between periods. As the cancer advances, symptoms may include abdominal pain, pelvic pain, bloating, a full abdomen soon after eating, bowel changes, and urinary changes.

Type 2 diabetes symptoms can be mild, but noticeable signs include frequent urination, excessive thirst, increased hunger, severe fatigue, blurry vision, and slow-healing cuts or bruises.

insulin

Preventive Measures for Women with Diabetes

A recent Korean study emphasizes the need for healthcare professionals to closely monitor diabetes patients for endometrial cancer and recommend effective preventative strategies. Women should undergo regular checkups with their doctors, especially if they have a family history of endometrial cancer, to discuss the possibility of genetic testing.

Preventing endometrial cancer starts with early action. The National Cancer Institute reports that endometrial hyperplasia, an abnormal thickening of the uterus, can progress to endometrial cancer if left untreated. Therefore, it is important to identify and treat it promptly.

Other preventive measures that may reduce the risk of endometrial cancer include breastfeeding, the use of prescription birth control pills or hormonal contraceptives like an intrauterine device (IUD), and avoiding smoking.

Medication and Lifestyle Changes

Medication may be beneficial in managing type 2 diabetes and reducing the risk of endometrial cancer. “A woman with type 2 diabetes can ask her doctor about drugs that sensitize insulin and may lower the level of sugar and insulin in her body,” suggests Dr. Annunziata.

However, there are also numerous actions patients can take to improve their condition independently. Moderate exercise helps lower blood sugar levels, while consuming foods with a low glycemic index, such as natural and unprocessed foods, aids in maintaining stable blood sugar levels.

These lifestyle changes not only contribute to better health but also enhance the body’s ability to utilize sugar effectively, reducing the risk of endometrial cancer.

Endometrial cancer can be a dangerous disease, particularly for women with type 2 diabetes. By understanding the relationship between these two conditions and implementing preventive measures, women can reduce their risk and enjoy a long and healthy life.

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