Elevated insulin and blood sugar levels INCREASE risk of cancer, multiple studies find
(Naturalhealth365) According to the National Cancer Institute, by 2040, the number of new cancer cases per year is anticipated to reach 29.5 million and the number of cancer-related deaths 16.4 million. Meanwhile, over 37 million adults in the United States are currently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The sad part is: conventionally speaking, insulin and its impact on cancer risk is widely unknown by the general public – yet, extremely important.
Keep in mind these two seemingly unrelated topics – new cancer cases and diabetes – are much more closely related than they appear. Hyperinsulinemia – defined as too much-circulating insulin in the blood relative to levels of glucose – is not, strictly speaking, diabetes, but rather a symptom of a larger issue described as metabolic syndrome.
Recent research has revealed that elevated levels of insulin can cause a spiral of ill health and set the stage for potentially life-threatening ailments – including raising the risk of certain cancers.
High insulin levels create a “perfect storm” of conditions that promote cancer
Insulin, a hormone produced in the pancreas, allows cells to absorb glucose in order to turn it into energy. But aging, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and a diet high in toxic fats and simple sugars can cause insulin resistance – in which the hormone is no longer completely effective.
In response, the body creates more and more insulin – leading to a vicious cycle of excess insulin and elevated blood sugar.
Because insulin is a growth factor, hyperinsulinemia promotes extremely rapid cell division (bad news when cancer cells are involved), thereby causing greater proliferation, migration, and invasiveness of cancer.
In addition, chronically elevated insulin and blood sugar cause cells to lose control of their DNA regulatory genes, triggering possible cancer-causing mutations – while elevated blood levels of glucose and triglycerides in the blood provide fuel for the growth of tumors.
Other possible consequences of hyperinsulinemia include obesity, an increased risk of blood clots, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. But it is the link to cancer that was highlighted most emphatically in recent studies.
Investigating the link: A comprehensive analysis of ovarian cancer and endocrine dynamics
A 2023 study published in Frontiers in Endocrinology investigated the close relationship between ovarian cancer occurrence and development with the patient’s weight and various endocrine factors in the body. The aim of the study was to employ Mendelian randomization (MR) to analyze the bidirectional relationship between insulin-related characteristics and ovarian cancer.
Methods involved the use of data from up to 5,567 diabetes-free patients in 10 studies, focusing on fasting insulin level, insulin secretion rate, peak insulin response, and other insulin-related characteristics. Ovarian cancer data was derived from the updated 2021 UK Biobank, incorporating relevant gene data from 199741 Europeans.
Results indicated that among all insulin-related indicators (fasting insulin level, insulin secretion rate, peak insulin response), the insulin secretion rate was identified to have a causal relationship with the occurrence of ovarian cancer. This implied that the risk of ovarian cancer increased with a decrease in insulin secretion rate. This suggests that changes in insulin secretion may indicate broader metabolic dysregulation, which could create an environment conducive to cancer development.
Insulin’s catch-22: Navigating the intricacies of decreased secretion and surging resistance
The connection between a decrease in insulin secretion and elevated insulin levels may seem counterintuitive, as one might expect that a reduction in insulin secretion would lead to lower insulin levels. However, this apparent contradiction can be understood by considering the concept of insulin resistance.
When cells are resistant to insulin, they require higher levels of insulin to respond appropriately. This resistance can lead to a compensatory increase in insulin secretion by the pancreas in an attempt to maintain normal blood glucose levels.
Elevated insulin levels increase multiple forms of cancer
In a study published in Gynecologic Oncology, researchers found that hyperinsulinemia caused a staggering 45-fold greater chance of type 1 endometrial cancer, a cancer of the uterine lining.
Yes, you read that correctly. Elevated insulin levels caused a 45 times greater risk, leading researchers to conclude that hyperinsulinemia could even be a “key factor” in the initiation and promotion of cancer cell growth.
High levels of insulin also raise the risk of prostate cancer malignancies by 2.55-fold, with a 5.62-fold risk of locally advanced tumors.
While hyperinsulinemia didn’t cause other cancer risks to skyrocket like the odds for endometrial cancer, they were still concerning. Elevated insulin was found to triple the risk of breast cancer, raise the risk of colorectal cancer by up to 42 percent, and raise the risk of stomach cancer by 69 to 101 percent.
And, when paired with hepatitis B, high insulin levels raised the risk of liver cancer 2.4-fold. (these are staggering figures!)
Suppress after-meal insulin and glucose spikes naturally
With elevated insulin levels associated with higher odds of cancer, researchers point to the need to reduce post-prandial – or after-meal – surges in insulin and glucose levels. (Heightened levels of insulin and blood sugar after meals can eventually become chronic, setting the stage for type 2 diabetes).
And it turns out that extracts from the maqui berry (scientifically known as Aristotelia chilensis) can do just that. Extensive studies point to the exciting potential of these tiny berries to lower insulin and blood sugar naturally.
Researchers report that compounds in maqui berries known as delphinidins and anthocyanins can stimulate the release of glucagon-like peptide-1, which delays stomach emptying and allows more time for glucose from a meal to reach the tissues in the small intestine.
In one placebo-controlled study, researchers found that maqui berry extracts suppressed after-meal insulin production by up to 56 percent – and glucose levels by up to 15 percent.
In addition to managing post-meal spikes, maqui berry extracts can lower hemoglobin A1c blood levels, which measure glucose levels over several months.
Clove and cinnamon: A pair of baking spices increases insulin efficiency
Common kitchen cloves, or Syzygium aromaticum, contain polyphenols that regulate the enzyme responsible for releasing glucose into the bloodstream, thereby improving insulin sensitivity and helping to control after-meal blood glucose.
In one study, 250 mg of clove extract daily for 30 days reduced glucose significantly. In another study, type 2 diabetics eating the equivalent of one or two cloves a day over 30 days experienced significant decreases in serum glucose.
When it comes to improving insulin efficiency, cinnamon is also a powerful ally. Researchers have learned that beneficial plant compounds in cinnamon, known as proanthocyanidins, work on two different components involved in insulin function – an insulin receptor and a glucose transporter.
These antioxidant compounds also inhibit the inflammatory response and reduce oxidative damage. Of course, as always, we encourage you to review this information with a trusted healthcare provider – especially when dealing with a blood sugar issue.
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