Maintaining control of your glucose is very important as a diabetes patient. Doing so can help keep the disease in check and lower your risk of a slew of complications. A new study finds that it may also play a big role in reducing cancer risk.

Researchers from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden recently looked at the link between weight loss, glucose control, and cancer risk in patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes. They found that while weight loss was instrumental in reducing cancer risk, having control over glucose was even more important. The findings were published in the journal Diabetes Care.


Kajsa Sjöholm, first author and associate professor of molecular medicine at the University of Gothenburg, says, “What we see is that, among patients with type 2 diabetes, many cancer cases are preventable. These results are an important contribution that enhances our understanding of the connection between glucose control and cancer prevention.”

To better understand the connection, the research team used data from the Swedish Obese Subjects or “SOS” intervention trial, which studied the effects of bariatric surgery on diseases including diabetes and cancer. They also pulled data from other sources, including the Swedish Cancer Registry.

Researchers compared a group of 393 people with type 2 diabetes who had undergone bariatric surgery and a control group of 308 people with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and similar characteristics but who had not undergone the surgery.


Among the surgery patients, 68 – or about 17% – developed cancer, compared with 74 patients – or 24% – of the control group that had not lost weight. This was over a median follow-up period of 21 years.

However, the difference in glucose control was much starker. Of patients who had normal glucose levels and no disease relapse over a ten-year period, 12 out of 102 – or 12% – of patients developed cancer. Meanwhile, 75 of 335 – or 22% – of those who had relapsed developed the disease.

The team says these findings could be instrumental in preventing a number of cancer cases.


Magdalena Taube, senior author and associate professor of molecular medicine at the University of Gothenburg, explains, “The global epidemic of both obesity and diabetes leads to an increased risk of cancer, as well as an increased risk of premature death. It has been estimated that, over the next 10 to 15 years, obesity may cause more cancer cases than smoking in several countries. This is a clear illustration of how serious the condition is.

“Strategies are needed to prevent this development, and our results can provide vital guidance for prevention of cancer in patients with obesity and type 2 diabetes.”

Overall, the authors note that bariatric surgery and lasting diabetes remission may be helpful in attaining this goal.

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