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Study: Elevated glucose levels may be linked to colorectal cancer


BRONX, N.Y. — A new study conducted by researchers at Yeshiva University's Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that high blood-sugar levels may be associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

Researchers examined the fasting blood sugar and insulin levels of nearly 5,000 postmenopausal women — all of whom were enrolled in the National Institutes of Health's landmark Women's Health Initiative study — several times over a 12-year period.

By the end of the 12-year period, 81 of the women had developed colorectal cancer. The researchers found that elevated baseline glucose levels were associated with increased colorectal cancer risk, with women that were part of the highest third of baseline glucose levels were nearly twice as likely to have developed colorectal cancer, compared with women categorized in the lowest third of blood-glucose levels. Results were similar when the scientists looked at repeated glucose measurements over time, the researchers said. No association was found, however, between insulin levels and risk for colorectal cancer.

"The next challenge is to find the mechanism by which chronically elevated blood glucose levels may lead to colorectal cancer," said Geoffrey Kabat, a senior epidemiologist at Einstein and lead author of the paper. "It's possible that elevated glucose levels are linked to increased blood levels of growth factors and inflammatory factors that spur the growth of intestinal polyps, some of which later develop into cancer."

The findings appeared online in the Nov. 29 edition of the British Journal of Cancer.

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