Diabetes and Cancer
Metabolic Health
Medically Reviewed iconMedically Reviewedcevron icon

What You Should Know About Diabetes and Cancer

Diabetes and cancer are interlinked - a fact most people are not aware of. According to an NCBI study, it has been estimated that around 20% of cancer individuals have diabetes. To know the connection between the two, we need to first understand each of them individually.

No matter what type of diabetes it is,  whether it resulted from a lineage factor, being overweight, or triggered as an autoimmune disease, you are in a position to control your blood sugar levels through some behavioural changes.

If the causative agents of the disease are kept in check, you can retard or even stop the progression of the disease. The focus should remain on the early detection of the condition to gain better control over it. The risks that should be counteracted are -

  • Family history
  • Environmental agents
  • Autoantibodies
  • Weight
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Age
  • High blood pressure

What is Cancer?

In simplest terms, cancer is what happens to our cells when it stops functioning normally. There is an abnormal growth in the cell, and it multiplies, leading to a tumour or growth. A tumour can, however, be cancerous or non-cancerous.

How Can Diabetes Lead to Cancer?

Over the years, various studies such as NCBI and MDPI have been conducted to draw a string between the two diseases, but any positive association remains inconclusive. Diabetic conditions including steatosis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and cirrhosis increase the chances of vulnerability to liver cancer. Abnormal glucose metabolism may enhance the risk of pancreatic cancer. Prostate cancer, among the others, draws no association with diabetes. Even after a lot of research, there have been no shreds of evidence linking diabetes to a few rare cancers. Therefore, whether the connection between the two is direct or not remains unanswered. Researchers have also assumed that diabetes may be a marker of underlying biologic factors that alter cancer risk. There has been an anticipated linkage between diabetes and certain cancers like liver, pancreas, uterus, colon, breast, and bladder cancer.

Do Diabetes Treatments Raise Cancer Risk?

It is uncertain if medications taken during diabetes may result in cancer occurrence. A study of NCBI holds metformin and insulin as critical factors for cancer development. However, such claims need more research and evidence.

One thing in our control is to be cautious regarding the risk factors that involve diabetes and cancer. Both the conditions also share some similar risk factors, namely diabetes and cancer risks:

  • Age: The risk of developing cancer and diabetes shoots higher as you age.
  • Obesity: An increase in weight is a known risk factor for both.
  • Gender: Men have a higher risk of succumbing to the diseases when compared to women.
  • Abusive habits: Smoking and drinking alcohol have been suggested by studies to increase the risk of diabetes and cancer.
Book a Free Session

How Can I Manage My Diabetes during Cancer Treatment?

Diabetes and cancer treatment initially follow the same path. Eating healthy and exercising on a daily basis will help lower your risks.

Non-starchy Vegetables

These vegetables have a lower content of carbohydrates in them. We know carbohydrates are essential for fueling our energy, and the excess amount of it gets stored as fat. Only a sufficient amount is needed to give us the upsurge of energy, and non-starchy vegetables sublimely accomplish this task. A few examples are -

  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cucumber
  • Mushroom
  • Cauliflower
  • Tomatoes

Lean Proteins

Lean proteins are preferred over any proteins as they have lower fat in them. The options in it are -

  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Cheese
  • Beans
  • Tofu


Having portion-sized carbohydrates keeps your blood sugar level optimum. The choices in carbohydrates that you can go for are -

  • Whole grains
  • Green peas
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potato
  • Legumes

Light to moderate exercise is essential to bring your body weight in control and thus control many chronic ailments.

Preventive Steps You Can Take?

  • Reduce or completely cut off the intake of abusive products like alcohol and tobacco.
  • Get periodic screenings done.
  • Visit your doctor at regular intervals.
  • Monitor blood sugar level.
  • Give up on a sedentary lifestyle and eat healthily.


By being meticulous about yourself, you can gain a healthy life without worrying about chronic issues. Diabetes and cancer have both plagued our lifestyles over time. However, with newer advancements, novel treatment modalities, and various research and studies conducted, the world has begun to see how these conditions can be controlled by being vigilant toward oneself and gaining awareness.


Does diabetes make cancer worse?

An important question always remains if diabetes causes cancer. Diabetes and cancer link to one another in a couple of ways. Fatty liver, which is a condition of diabetes, may increase the chances of liver cancer. A few diabetes medications can also raise cancer risk. However, if diabetes is controlled, it poses no threat to worsening cancer

What cancers are linked to diabetes?

The cancers that lead to diabetes are liver, pancreas, uterus, colon, breast, and bladder cancer.

Can Cancer cause Blood Sugar to drop?

A few tumours - basically the ones that may arise in the pancreas - may lead to excessive insulin secretion. This phenomenon results in a drop in blood sugar levels.

Why do individuals with Cancer get Diabetes?

Pancreatic cancer may lead to the removal of a part of the pancreas. This, in turn, may cause diabetes. Many people succumb to pain, anxiety, diet changes, inflammation and induced chemotherapy drugs that may spike their blood sugar levels.

Does Diabetes cause Liver Cancer?

Studies have shown that likelihood of occurrence of liver cancer is many folds higher in people diagnosed with type II diabetes compared to those without diabetes.One of the conditions of diabetes is a fatty liver. People undergoing this condition are more prone to liver cancer.

Can a tumour cause diabetes?

A tumour in the pancreas can induce diabetes in a individual.


This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.