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Pancreatic Cancer - Are Diabetic Patients At A Higher Risk?

FACS, MBBS, MS - General Surgery
Oncologist, Gurgaon  •  48 years experience
Pancreatic Cancer - Are Diabetic Patients At A Higher Risk?

Diabetes which was earlier called a lazy person's disease does not live up to the name anymore. Owing to the sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits, diabetes has become an epidemic in the recent years.
As as we all know, diabetes is a condition characterized by an increased concentration of blood glucose level. If not managed and treated on time, the condition can prove to be life threatening. Diabetes is known to trigger a host of health complications and disorders including cancer. In fact, research has established that there is a link between diabetes and pancreatic cancer. The report suggests that people with chronic diabetes for more than 5 years stand at an increased risk of suffering from pancreatic cancer. In some patients, diabetes may be one of the symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer. Whether diabetes triggered pancreatic cancer or was it the precancerous cells that caused the diabetes is difficult to explain.

The pancreas is an important organ involved in the production and secretion of many important hormones including the insulin (by the Beta cells of the pancreas). A diseased condition, such as pancreatic cancer may bring about changes, affecting the proper functioning of the pancreas. This, in turn, may interfere with the production of insulin. Decreased production of insulin or insulin resistance may result in elevated concentrations of glucose in the blood, a condition that will eventually give rise to Diabetes.

According to another published article (NCBI), in many patients with pancreatic cancer, diabetes was detected almost simultaneously along with cancer or 2 years prior to the diagnosis of cancer. These findings indicate the fact that both diabetes and pancreatic cancer not only occurred concomitantly but were also correlated.


Another experiment suggested that in people with Type-2 diabetes, the pancreas was for long subjected to a condition termed as hyperinsulinemia (increased level of insulin in the blood as compared to the blood glucose level). The experiment shows that insulin does have a role to play in establishing a relationship between diabetes and pancreatic cancer.

Managing Diabetes and Pancreatic Cancer
The conditions of diabetes and pancreatic cancer should be managed well to avoid further complications.

  • The diet plays a significant role in the proper management. The diet should be well balanced with all the essential nutrients. Include more fruits and vegetables in the diet. Berries such as raspberries, blackberries can go a long way to regularize the blood glucose level. Opt for whole grain cereals and food items. Avoid foods rich in fats and carbohydrates.
  • A healthy body weight can work wonders, both in the case of diabetes and pancreatic cancer. If you are a couch potato, give up the habit at the earliest. Indulge in more physical activities (not necessarily rigorous or strenuous) such as exercise, jogging, morning walk. In addition to keeping your weight in check, these physical activities are excellent stress busters.
  • The unhealthy lifestyle habits such as drinking, smoking, substance abuse can harm your body beyond imagination. Give up these unhealthy habits as early as you can.

There may be a strong connection between pancreatic cancer and diabetes. However, to avoid one affecting the other, one should take care of themselves and manage the conditions well. In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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