Study shows diabetes link to colon cancer - smokers with type-2 diabetes face the greatest risk

A recent, clinically-confirmed study has shown that persons suffering from type-2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC) when compared to the general public.

The chances of developing the disease are even greater for men, especially those who smoke.

Previous studies of cancer risk among diabetes patients have been limited or inconclusive.

The current study, jointly conducted by a group of doctors from Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, University of Cincinnati and the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, addresses many of the limitations from previous investigations. The findings highlight the need for type-2 diabetes patients to have regular CRC screening exams, especially if they smoke. It also serves as a reminder to physicians to consider the increased risk for CRC and to tailor their screening process accordingly.

Type-2 diabetes affects more than 16 million people in the U.S. and its prevalence continues to rise. CRC presents yet another serious health risk to diabetes sufferers. “The need for all adults to follow a healthy diet, lifestyle and regular medical visits becomes even more important when considering that approximately one-third of persons with type-2 diabetes may not be aware of their diagnosis,” says the lead author of the study, Paul Limburg, M.D., M.P.H. a gastroenterologist at Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.

Further research will be needed to clarify the extent to which diabetes patients suffer an increased risk of developing all types of cancer. Fortunately, as with many health risks associated with diabetes, the study shows that the greatest risk factor, smoking, is avoidable.

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