Tag Archives: pancreatic cancer

Elevated Fasting Blood Sugar Linked to Pancreatic Cancer

A recent meta-analysis found that elevated fasting blood glucose levels, even in the prediabetic range, are associated with higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer. This is important because you can take action today to lower your fasting blood sugar level, which may lower your risk of pancreatic cancer over the long-term. The researchers conclude that…

“Every 0.56 mmol/L [10 mg/dl] increase in fasting blood glucose is associated with a 14% increase in the rate of pancreatic cancer.”

In the developed world, your risk of getting an invasive cancer is roughly one in four. Pancreatic cancer is the most lethal. Surgery is the way to cure it, but at the time of diagnosis only two in 10 patients are candidates for surgery because the cancer has already spread. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the USA and the fifth in the UK. Nevertheless, pancreas cancer is not terribly common; the US has 50,000 new cases annually. As a hospitalist, I run across one or two new cases of pancreas cancer every year.

We’ve known for years that type 2 diabetes is linked to pancreatic cancer, with diabetics having twice the risk of nondiabetics.

What if you have elevated fasting blood sugars? There’s no proof that reducing them to the normal range will reduce your risk of pancreatic cancer. But if it were me, that’s what I’d shoot for.

Other that type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, some other risk factors for pancreas cancer are:

  • heredity
  • smoking
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • body mass index over 30 (obesity in other words)

You can alter most of those risk factors. Why not get started now?

Steve Parker, M.D.

PS: If you’re not sure if your fasting blood sugar’s elevated, click here.

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Filed under Diabetes Complications

Metformin May Reduce Pancreatic Cancer Risk in Diabetics


Reuters reported recently that people with type 2 diabetes using metformin had a 60% lower risk of developing pancreatic cancer compared with diabetics who never used metformin.  People taking insulin and drugs that stimulate insulin secretion,  such as sulfonylureas and glinides, also seem to be at higher risk of pancreas cancer. 

"OK, guys, are we ready to go get that cancer?"

"OK, guys, are we ready to go get that cancer?"

Lead researcher for the study, Donghui Li, is affiliated with the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.  My sense is that the research has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed professional journal. 

About one in every 75 people in the U.S. will develop pancreatic cancer, which is a particularly dangerous cancer.  That translates to 38,000 new cases yearly.  Both type 1 and type 2 diabetics are twice as likely as the general population to develop it.  The best chance for a cure is surgical removal of the malignancy.

Prevention is even better.

Steve Parker, M.D.

Reference:  Steenhuysen, Julie.  Drug cuts diabetics’ pancreatic cancer risk: study.  Reuters, August 3, 2009.

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Filed under Diabetes Complications, Drugs for Diabetes