Common diseases increase risk of cancer

A number of the most widespread chronic diseases in our society increase the risk of cancer. This is shown by a study of 20 000 Swedes that mapped patientsí illnesses up to ten years before their cancer diagnosis.
“We have carried out more in-depth studies on diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol”, explains Bo Attner, a doctoral student under Professor Håkan Olsson at Lund University and Skåne University Hospital in Sweden.

The studies he and his colleagues have carried out have attracted a lot of attention in the US, where obesity is a major problem. They show that those who develop diabetes are at greater risk of later suffering from cancer of the breast, liver, colon, pancreas and bladder.

Those who are obese are more likely to suffer from cancer of the womb, colon or kidney, and, among the over 60s, also breast cancer. The results are based on a population-based register study of the entire population of Skåne County.

“Greater knowledge of how our most common diseases can be linked to cancer later in life could help the primary care services diagnose cancer earlier and provide preventive care to reduce the prevalence of the disease”, says Bo Attner.

Physical activity and a healthy diet are the key.
“Avoid becoming overweight or obese and act to prevent type 2 diabetes. This could affect whether or not we get cancer. It also has major consequences for health economics”, says Attner.

His study was published recently in the scientific journal Cancer Causes Control. Title: ‘Cancer among patients with diabetes, obesity and abnormal blood lipids: a population-based register study in Sweden’.

Text and photo: Katrin Ståhl

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