Issue 44 June 2012
2. Prevent type 2 diabetes; prevent blood cancers

When we think about diabetes complications, most probably only heart disease or kidney failure comes into the mind . A new study published online in the journal Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology by researchers at The Miriam Hospital found that patients with type 2 diabetes have a 20 percent increased risk of developing blood cancers, such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma.

While diabetes has been previously associated with other types of cancer, such as liver and pancreatic cancer, there have been few connections to blood cancers. Researchers are still unclear what causes the vast majority of these malignancies, which include cancers of the blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes.

Lead author Jorge Castillo, M.D., a hematologist/oncologist and colleagues analyzed 26 previously published research articles on the association between type 2 diabetes and the incidence of lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma.

The meta-analysis included more than 17,000 cases of type 2 diabetes and blood cancer worldwide. They concluded that patients with type 2 diabetes have increased odds of developing leukemia, myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, as well as a subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma known as peripheral T-cell lymphoma. They did not find any associations with Hodgkin lymphoma. Interestingly, researchers also say the odds of lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma appear to differ depending on the geographic region. For example, the odds of non-Hodgkin lymphoma were higher in Asia and Europe, while there was an increased leukemia risk in the United States and Asia.

"It's important to remember that type 2 diabetes can, to some degree, be prevented and controlled through lifestyle modification, such as diet and exercise," Castillo said. "So by preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes, we could also prevent blood cancer."

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