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Researchers have found a connection between insulin and pancreatic cancer, according to findings reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (December 14, 2005). Although it is known that diabetes and pancreatic cancer are related, the purpose of the study was to determine whether diabetes is the cause or the result of pancreatic cancer. Using data from the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study, the researchers detected pancreatic cancer in 169 patients within 5 years of follow-up, compared with 400 patients without cancer.
All of the participants were men who smoked and were aged 50 to 69; the group was followed for up to 16.7 years. After factoring in the effects of age, years of smoking, and body mass index, the researchers found that higher levels of glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance were associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.
The results of the study also indicated that patients diagnosed with diabetes, and those with the highest insulin levels, faced 2 times the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. The researchers noted that further investigation is needed to understand why the disparities occur so that they can be corrected.