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Elevated Levels of Certain Proteins Increase the Risk of Death from Diabetes and Cancer

October 17, 2022

Elevated Levels of Certain Proteins Increase the Risk of Death from Diabetes and Cancer


According to recent research, those with elevated levels of prostaglandins (found mainly in the epithelial cells that line the body's surfaces and organs) may be more likely to develop diabetes. This study was recently published in the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) journal, Diabetologia.


Importantly, the findings also suggest that people with higher blood glucose and prostaglandin levels appear to have a much higher chance of dying from cancer. The findings were consistent even after taking into account various important variables such as age, gender, waist circumference, drinking and smoking patterns, LDL (harmful) cholesterol, systolic blood pressure and anti-hypertensive medication.


Blood samples from the Malmö Diet and Cancer Study, a large population-based prospective study that has been conducted in the southern Swedish city of Malmö since 1993, are the first to examine the relationship between prostaglandin blood levels and cancer mortality in the general population.


"This is the most comprehensive analysis of its kind to date and provides new clues to the biological link between diabetes and cancer," said co-lead author Professor Gunnar Engström from Lund University, Malmö, Sweden. "The fact that prostaglandins may be just one indicator that disease may occur or may be causally linked is exciting as it raises the possibility of targeting this protein for the treatment of diabetes and cancer in the future."


Numerous studies have shown a correlation between diabetes and a higher chance of developing various types of cancer, as well as higher cancer mortality. Diabetes drugs could also alter this correlation. In addition to a 30 per cent increased risk of bowel cancer and a 20 per cent increased risk of breast cancer, people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to develop pancreatic, endometrial and liver cancers. However, little is known about the mechanisms behind this tendency.


Prostaglandins are stimulators of epithelial sodium channels that regulate sodium balance, blood volume and blood pressure. In addition, prostaglandins have been found to inhibit hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar)-induced tumour growth and have been linked to glucose metabolism. However, very little is known about the link between prostaglandins, diabetes and cancer mortality.