February 4th is #WorldCancerDay, marking a 2019-2021 empowerment campaign with the hashtag #IAmAndIWill. While not all cancers are preventable, over 1/3 of cancers can be prevented through lifestyle choices alone. Healthy eating, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active are all important measures to prevent and reduce cancer risks. The #IAmAndIWill campaign is a personal commitment and call to action for people to impact their chance for a cancer-free life. Cancer awareness and understanding risks are not only important to the general public, but especially for people with diabetes.
Overall, people living with diabetes are at a greater risk for cancer than those without diabetes. While experts have always suspected a link between the two diseases, a 2018 study confirmed the association. Diabetes raises a person’s risk of developing certain types of cancers. The study also found that women are at a greater risk for developing cancer than men.
The most commonly diagnosed cancers in people living with type 2 diabetes include:
Type 1 diabetes can increase the risk of stomach cancer and cervical cancer, in addition to the same cancers common in type 2 diabetes, although to a lesser extent. Women with diabetes are 27 percent likelier to develop cancer, compared with healthy women. By contrast, men with diabetes are 19 percent more likely to develop cancer than healthy men. However, women with diabetes are 6 percent likelier than men with diabetes to develop a type of cancer.
A healthy diet, physical activity, quitting smoking and weight management strategies reduce the risk of cancer in diabetes and improve outcomes. It is important for people with diabetes to seek guidance from their healthcare professionals to undergo appropriate cancer screenings as recommended for age and sex.