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A combined analysis of previous studies provides additional evidence that people with diabetes may be at increased risk of colon cancer and rectal cancer. These results were published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Diabetes affects almost 26 million people in the United States and is the seventh leading cause of death.[1]Diabetes contributes to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, lower-limb amputations, and blindness. Some studies have also linked diabetes to an increased risk of certain types of cancer, including colorectal cancer.

To further evaluate the relationship between diabetes and risk of colorectal cancer, researchers conducted a combined analysis of previously published studies.[2]

  • Diabetes was linked with a 38% increased risk of colon cancer and a 20% increased risk of rectal cancer. The relationship between diabetes and colorectal cancer persisted even after accounting for obesity and smoking.
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The reasons for the link between diabetes and colorectal cancer remain uncertain.

People with diabetes may wish to talk with their doctor about colorectal cancer screening recommendations. In addition to detecting cancer at an early stage, some screening tests can help to prevent colorectal cancer by detecting polyps before they become cancerous. Regular physical activity and a healthy body weight also provide important health benefits.

References:

[1] National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. National Diabetes Statistics, 2011.

[2] Yuhara H, Steinmaus C, Cohen SE, Corley DA, Tei Y, Buffler PA. Is diabetes mellitus an independent risk factor for colon cancer and rectal cancer? American Journal of Gastroenterology. Early online publication September 13, 2011.