Concerns About Breast Cancer and Type 2 Diabetes

In 2006 191,410 women in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. That same year 40,820 women died from the disease. As you know, breast cancer is considered to be epidemic among women over age fifty. It is still not clear whether hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increases your risk for this type of cancer.

Women who have survived cancer of the breast are more likely to get cancer on the opposite side, more than women who have never had cancer of the breast. According to a study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment July 2010, this increased risk is even higher for women with Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at the Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle USA looked at 934 women aged 40 to 79 with a diagnosis of breast cancer. The volunteers included 322 who had developed cancer on the opposite breast and 616 who had cancer of the breast for the first time. Women with Type 2 diabetes had more than twice the risk of developing a second breast cancer than did patients without diabetes. The authors concluded that diabetics who had cancer of the breast, should be examined for cancer of the opposite breast as well.

According to an article published June, 2010 in Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology and Diabetes, breast cancer is the most common malignancy among women worldwide. As many as 16 per cent of elderly cancer of the breast patients also have a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. Population studies overall show an increased risk of this cancer in diabetics. Insulin is thought by some to increase the risk, but metformin therapy might have some benefit.

The Mayo clinic lists several things women can do to help prevent cancer of the breast.

1. Limiting alcoholic beverages to one drink per day or no alcohol at all is recommended, since a link has been demonstrated

2. Due to an association between obesity and breast cancer, maintaining a healthy weight, especially after menopause, is another recommendation. Fatty tissue in women produces a female hormone called estrogen, and some scientists speculate that the increase in estrogen could be behind the increased risk.

3. Regular physical activity, which can help in achieving and maintaining a good body weight, can be helpful.

4. Limiting fat in your diet is likely to result in a decreased risk.

5. Hormone therapy (HRT) can increase the risk of breast cancer, so the benefits of hormone replacement therapy after menopause should be weighed against the possible risk.

6. Pesticides are similar to estrogen, so it’s best to keep clear of those.

7. Prolonged use of antibiotics can also raise the risk of breast cancer.

For the record, heart disease kills more women than breast cancer so where HRT is concerned it can:

  • definitely lower your cholesterol levels
  • lower your risk of heart disease and
  • reduce your risk of dying from heart disease and
  • stop bone loss

The main thing is to be vigilant for cancer of the breast. Insulin resistance which is also linked to an increased risk of breast cancer is also characteristic of Type 2 diabetes.