Let us consider diabetes – insulin – and cancer. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the innovation of insulin. This anniversary is important due to the relationship between diabetes and cancer.

To access our prior posts on diabetes, click here. 


A Long Look Back at Diabetes – Insulin – and Cancer

This is another key post for me. Because, unquestionably, my having diabetes contributed to me getting pancreatic cancer.

Diabetes and Cancer 

According to Medical News Today:

That diabetes links to cancer in some way is by no means a new idea. But our previously beliefs remained unconfirmed. Now, a major new study draws a firm conclusion. Diabetes raises a person’s risk of developing cancer.

A review analyzed the data collected by 47 studies from across the globe. Including the United States, United Kingdom, China, Australia, and Japan, to name but a few. And it confirms, beyond doubt, that diabetes heightens the risk for cancer.

The study authors note that women with diabetes seem especially affected. Why? They appear more exposed than men to the development of malignant tumors. The findings of this global review assessed the health-related data of almost 20 million people. And now summarized in a paper published in the journal Diabetologia.

Diabetes and Insulin

Given the above, we are grateful for the positive effects of insulin since its introduction.

As Amy Moran-Thomas reports for the New England Journal of Medicine:

As the story is often told, on July 27, 1921 — two young researchers in Canada isolated the hormone insulin. Within months, doses reached patients. In 1923, the collaborating inventors sold the insulin patent to their university for $1 each. With the goal of keeping treatment affordable and accessible for everyone. Ensuing narratives often depict linear timelines of scientific progress stretching toward the present day. Such as glucose-monitoring devices, miniature insulin pumps, insulin analogs, the promise of the bionic pancreas, and numerous therapeutics.

Unfortunately, despite the inventors’ generosity, insulin distribution is lacking. Consider this chart from the World Health Organization.

Diabetes - Insulin - and Cancer

Adds Moran-Thomas:

Patients without other options inject expired or suboptimal types of insulin or ration their supplies. In addition, safer analog insulins and pumps remain unavailable to many. Caregivers fight for basic tools. Some felt that afraid to prescribe insulin for home use after knowing patients who died from overdoses. In that instance, because they couldn’t afford glucose-measurement tools. Families face impossible choices as they attempt to procure treatment in some regions. Where insulin for a child with type 1 diabetes can consume most of a household’s budget.


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