Link Found Between Blood Sugar and Brain Cancer

Link Found Between Blood Sugar and Brain Cancer

by Madhumathi Palaniappan on May 4 2017 5:48 PM
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  • Brain tumors that develop from the cancerous glial cells are called gliomas.
  • Diabetes patients have a lower risk of developing brain cancer, finds new study.
A surprising relationship between blood sugar and brain tumors may help to shed light on how certain cancers would develop, finds a new study from the Ohio State University.
Cancers are more common among people with diabetes. And cancerous tumors in the brain called gliomas are less common among people with elevated blood sugar and diabetes.

The research study may show how the high blood sugar may appear to reduce the risk of a person’s noncancerous brain tumor called meningioma. The research study was led by Judith Schwartzbaum, associate professor of epidemiology, researcher in the Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The glioma study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Schwartzbaum said, "Diabetes and elevated blood sugar increase the risk of cancer at several sites including the colon, breast and bladder. But in this case, these rare malignant brain tumors are more common among people who have normal levels of blood glucose than those with high blood sugar or diabetes."

She said, "Our research raises questions that, when answered, will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in glioma development."

Research Study
The research paper included two large long-term studies. One of it, called AMORIS, included 528,580 Swedes. And the other one called Me-Can that consisted of 269,365 Austrians and Swedes. Of these around 812 participants were found to develop gliomas.

The research team evaluated blood sugar and diabetes data as well as its relationship to the subsequent development of brain cancer. The findings showed that people with elevated blood sugar and diabetes may have a lower risk of developing glioma.

"This really prompts the question, ’Why is the association between blood glucose levels and brain cancer the opposite of that for several other cancerous tumors?" said Schwartzbaum.

The research team also found that the relationship was found to be stronger within a year of cancer diagnosis.

Schwartzbaum said, "This may suggest that the tumor itself affects blood glucose levels or that elevated blood sugar or diabetes may paradoxically be associated with a protective factor that reduces brain tumor risk."

For example, the insulin-like growth factor is associated with glioma recurrence and is also found to be in lower levels among diabetes people and those who don’t have the disease.

The brain may account only for about 2% of the body weight and would consume about 20% of the body’s available glucose, Schwartzbaum said.

The research on restrictive diets and effect on brain cancer development has found to show mixed results. More work is however needed to determine if there is a relationship about sugar/tumor relationship which can be modified in a way that is beneficial to the brain cancer patients.

Glioma is one of the most common types of cancer tumor that originates in the brain. The tumor may begin in the cells that surround the nerves and help them function. Glioma is diagnosed in middle age. Around 33% of the brain tumors are called gliomas.

Currently, there is no treatment to ensure long-term survival, but however, several options could be studied.

  1. Judith Schwartzbaum, Michael Edlinger, Victoria Zigmont, Pär Stattin, Grzegorz A. Rempala, Gabriele Nagel, Niklas Hammar, Hanno Ulmer, Bernhard Föger, Göran Walldius, Jonas Manjer, Håkan Malmström & Maria Feychting, ’Associations between prediagnostic blood glucose levels, diabetes, and glioma,’ Scientific Reports (2017);doi:10.1038/s41598-017-01553-2
  2. Gliomas - (,22/)