Link Between Brain Cancer and Blood Sugar Discovered

Researchers have found a surprising  relationship between blood sugar and brain tumors. The discovery may also be able shed light on how certain cancers develop in the body. The research findings have been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Researchers from Ohio State University have discovered a possible link between high blood sugar levels and certain cancerous brain tumors, and it may not be what you think. Surprisingly, the researchers found out that cancerous brain tumors called gliomas are less common among those with diabetes, even though other cancers may be more common as a result of the condition. It seems to indicate that high blood sugar levels reduce the risk of developing brain tumors. The findings seems to build on previous research that high blood sugar levels also reduces the risk of developing non cancerous brain tumors called meningioma.

According to Judith Schwartzbaum, an associate professor of epidemiology and a researcher in Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, “Diabetes and elevated blood sugar increase the risk of cancer at several sites including the colon, breast and bladder. But in this case, these rare malignant brain tumors are more common among people who have normal levels of blood glucose than those with high blood sugar or diabetes.”

“Our research raises questions that, when answered, will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in glioma development,” she further added.

Glioma is one of the more common types of cancerous tumors that develop in the brain. It starts from the cells that surround the nerve cells. It is sometime during middle age that the disease may be diagnosed. Currently, there are no available treatment for this type of cancer to ensure long-term survival.

The study findings came from the analysis of two large long-term studies- AMORIS, a study with 528,580 Swedish participants and the Me-Can, which consisted of 269,365 Austrian and Swedish participants. Of the total, 812 participants developed gliomas.

Schwartzbaum and her colleagues analyzed the blood sugar and diabetes data of the participants and compared them to the incidence of brain cancer. The researchers fond out that those who have elevated blood sugar and diabetes also had the lower risk of developing brain cancer. It seems quite a surprise since other types of cancers have the opposite effect. The researchers also noticed that the link seems to be the strongest within the year when the cancer was diagnosed.

Schwartzbaum believes that the tumor growth may be affecting the blood glucose levels or that the elevated blood sugar or diabetes may have some protective factor somehow that tends to reduce the risk of tumors.

“For example, insulin-like growth factor is associated with glioma recurrence and is found in lower levels in people with diabetes than those who don’t have the disease,” Schwartzbaum further said.

Further study may be needed in order to better understand the relationship between elevated blood sugar levels and lower risk of glioma development.

Source: Ohio State University. “Surprising link between blood sugar, brain cancer found: Diabetes raises risk for many cancers, but not most common malignant brain tumor.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2017. <>


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