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High Glucose Levels Linked to Pancreatic Cancer Risk

Published May 17th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT
Al Bawaba
Al Bawaba

High blood glucose levels after a meal appear to indicate an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, US researchers suggest in a report published by Reuters Health, Tuesday. 

The finding may help explain the link between diabetes and pancreatic cancer reported in previous studies, according to researchers from Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, Illinois. 

Dr. Susan M. Gapstur and colleagues observed an association between the risk of death from pancreatic cancer and high blood concentrations of glucose among adults who had not previously reported they had diabetes, a chronic disease that affects the body's ability to produce or respond to insulin. 

Insulin, a hormone that allows glucose (sugar) to be used for energy is secreted by the pancreas. Insulin plays a vital role in helping the body process glucose. 

"In this analysis, we were interested in whether high serum glucose levels were associated with a greater risk of pancreatic cancer mortality," Gapstur told Reuters Health in an interview. 

The researchers looked at the risk of pancreatic cancer and higher levels of serum glucose independent of others factors associated with the risk of pancreatic cancer, such as age, race, cigarette smoking, body weight, and serum concentration in the urine. 

The investigators found that high blood sugar levels after drinking a sugar solution were linked to a higher than average risk of pancreatic cancer. And the higher the blood sugar level, the higher the risk. 

The link between blood sugar level and pancreatic cancer risk was more definite in men than in women, Gapstur and colleagues note in their report published in the May 17th issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. 

Men with the highest body weights also had three times the risk of pancreatic deaths compared with men who had lower weights, the findings indicate, but a similar association was not found for women. 

Pancreatic cancer, the fifth most common cause of death due to cancer, is difficult to diagnose. It is often not determined until the patient has experienced symptoms of advanced cancer such as weight loss, jaundice and pain, Gapstur stated. 

Pancreatic tumors are usually detected only after they have metastasized, or spread, even though ultrasound, CT scanning and other radiologic methods have improved the ability of physicians to diagnose pancreatic cancer. 

However, understanding the risk factors that can be modified could have a greater impact on reducing the incidence of the disease and its high mortality rate, the researchers conclude – 


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