High sugar levels in the blood increase risk of developing certain types of cancer

Blood tubeResearchers have identified a mechanism that allows cancer cells to respond and grow rapidly when levels of sugar in the blood rise. This may help to explain why people who develop conditions in which they have chronically high sugar levels in their blood, such as obesity, also have an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer.

The findings were published in the journal eLife, by Susumu Hirabayashi who leads the Metabolism and Cell Growth group at the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre based at Imperial College London, and Ross Cagan of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York.

It is a serious health concern, which can increase a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. People who develop type 2 diabetes become insensitive to a hormone called insulin. This hormone normally helps the body to process sugar, and so insensitivity to insulin causes excess sugar to build up in the blood. The excess sugar may provide the extra nutrients cancer cells need to grow. -

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