The risk of cancer may be higher the decade before — and three months following — a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, new research suggests.
Although it’s not clear why, the researchers have a theory to explain the seemingly higher risk of cancer incidence so soon after a type 2 diabetes diagnosis.
“This may in part be explained by increased health care visits and screening tests following a diagnosis of diabetes,” said study author Dr. Iliana Lega, of the University of Toronto.
The study included more than one million adults with cancer. The researchers found that people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were 23 percent more likely to have been diagnosed with cancer during the 10 years prior to their diabetes diagnosis than people without the blood sugar disorder.
Previous studies have hinted that cancer and diabetes may share similar risk factors, Lega said.
She noted that type 2 diabetes can be prevented with lifestyle changes. These changes include a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
“Similarly, diet and exercise interventions have also been shown to reduce cancer risk and improve cancer outcomes in the general population,” Lega said.
The new study only found an association between type 2 diabetes and cancer risk, not cause-and-effect.
The findings were published online July 11 in the journal Cancer.
“Our findings are important because they underscore the need for further research that examines the impact of exercise and healthy diet on cancer risk specifically in patients with or at risk for diabetes,” Lega said in a journal news release.
The researchers said the new study showed the need to better understand how type 2 diabetes and cancer might be related.
For more about diabetes and cancer, try the American Diabetes Association.