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"Pre-Diabetics" Are More Likely to Die of Cancer

Previous studies have shown that people who have difficulty processing blood sugar are at risk of diabetes and heart disease. Now new research suggests they may also be at increased risk of dying from cancer.

A "pre-diabetic" is someone with impaired glucose tolerance. An estimated 15% - 25% of the adult population has impaired glucose tolerance, also known as insulin resistance or "Syndrome X".

Impaired glucose tolerance is marked by elevated blood sugar levels as a result of resistance to insulin, a hormone that helps convert sugar from food into energy for the body's cells. Because glucose impairment (insulin resistance) often precedes type 2 diabetes, it is also called "pre-diabetes".

In a study of 3,000 adults, the researchers found that people with impaired glucose tolerance were nearly twice as likely to die from any type of cancer than were those with normal blood sugar levels. Their risk of dying from colon cancer, specifically, was more than quadruple that of those without impaired glucose tolerance.

Unless you get tested, you may be pre-diabetic and not know it. A glycosolated hemoglobin test or glucose tolerance test will give you a good indication of whether your have an insulin problem. You can't rely on the serum glucose measurement in a common blood test, because serum glucose fluctuates so much. However, if you did not eat any food for at least 5 hours before your blood test, and your serum glucose was high, you may need further testing.

Exercise, weight loss, and healthy diet are critical for controlling a pre-diabetic condition. There are a variety of supplements that also help to control blood sugar and insulin resistance.

The Connecrticut Center for Health specializes in treating people with impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes. Our physicians have many years of experience in successfully dealing with this disorder.

Source: American Journal of Epidemiology, 2003; 157:1092-1100