Having diabetes can likely increase the risk of colon cancer, new research revealed. However, the link between two diseases and what needs to done about it is still unclear.
Published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, the researchers found that diabetics have a higher risk of being diagnosed with colon cancer—a 38-percent higher risk compared to non-diabetics.
In addition to colon cancer, diabetics face a bigger risk of having rectal cancer by as much as 20 percent. However, this appears to be more in men than women.
This research was based on observational studies that linked colon cancer and with people who had diabetes. In certain instances, the researchers also took into account certain factors like older age, smoking or obesity to explain the link between the two diseases.
On another account, the researchers explained that people with diabetes are likely to have more insulin—the hormone that regulates our blood sugar. These hormones allow cells to spread and grow, which may include cancer cells.
Since it is not yet clear whether diabetes has a direct correlation with colon cancer, Dr. Hiroki Yuhara advised diabetics not to get screened for colon cancer often. Dr. Yuhara is based at the University of California, Berkeley and has led this research.
Ideally, colon cancer screening is done only upon reaching age 50. These tests may include examining the stool for hidden blood. Invasive procedures such as colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy may also be used.
But for people who are at a higher risk of colon cancer or any other inflammatory bowel disease due to strong family history, earlier screening is highly recommended. But diabetes is not considered as one of these compelling factors for earlier screening.