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Diabetes and hypertension may contribute to colon cancer recurrence

Category: Diabetes

Recent research conducted at the Temple University School of Medicine and Fox Chase Cancer Center found that metabolic syndrome contributors (high blood pressure and diabetes) may increase the likelihood of colon cancer returning. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines metabolic syndrome as a group of risk factors that contribute to the development of coronary artery disease and stroke.

During the study, Nestor Esnaola, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., who is an attending surgeon at Fox Chase Cancer Center and his team analyzed possible correlations between the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results data and Medicare data from 1998 to 2006, which involved 36,079 colon cancer patients,  7,024 of whom had metabolic syndrome. 

"Metabolic syndrome as a whole had no apparent effect on colon cancer recurrence or survival," said Esnaola. "When we teased out and analyzed the effect of each of its components, however, the data told a different story."

The results showed that patients who had early stages of colon cancer who also had diabetes or hypertension were more likely to experience a recurrence of the condition or die from the disease. Colon cancer patients who did not have diabetes had a 47.7 percent five-year survival rate. This dropped to 41.3 percent for patients who did have diabetes.

The researchers also found that the patients who had higher lipid levels - fatty substances attributed to high cholesterol - had an increased survival rate. They suspected that many of these patients were on cholesterol medications known as statins, which have been shown to be beneficial for colon cancer.

Esnaola noted that this is the largest study ever conducted to analyze the effects of metabolic syndrome on the recurrence of colon cancer. Currently, he is conducting research on the effects that metabolic syndrome has on other types of cancer.

Metabolic syndrome risk factors
The NIH notes that the two most prevalent contributors to metabolic syndrome are excess weight in the middle and upper regions of the body and the body's resistance to insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels. Other risk factors include age, being inactive and certain genes. The source also notes that blood clotting can exacerbate the side effects of metabolic syndrome.

The NIH reports that physicians usually recommend lifestyle changes in order to treat metabolic syndrome, such as losing weight, getting 30 minutes of exercise a week, lowering cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure through medication and exercise.


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