Higher Blood Sugar Levels Linked to Lower Risk of Specific Brain Tumor

Benign meningioma tumors may be less likely in patients with high blood sugar.

Unexpected study results revealed that benign meningioma tumors, previously tied to diabetes and obesity, are less likely to develop in patients with high blood sugar.

Prior research suggests that meningiomas are more common in people who are obese or who have diabetes. Researchers from The Ohio State University sought to determine whether there is a relationship between these tumors and blood markers, which includes glucose.

During the study, researchers looked at data from 1985 to 2012, identifying 296 cases of meningioma.

The results of the study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, showed that high blood sugar was linked to people who were less likely to develop the brain tumors, more than 61% of whom were women.

“It's so unexpected,” said lead researcher Judith Schwartzbaum. “Usually diabetes and high blood sugar raises the risk of cancer, and it's the opposite here. It should lead to a better understanding of what's causing these tumors and what can be done to prevent them.”

Women with the highest fasting blood sugar were less than half as likely to develop a tumor compared to those with the lower readings. In men, there were no statistically significant findings in fasting sugar readings and tumor development.

When researchers compared less reliable non fasting sugar readings, they found that men and women with high blood sugar both had a lower likelihood of developing meningioma.

Additionally, studying findings showed that patients diagnosed with diabetes before meningioma seem to have a decreased risk of developing meningioma. However, the authors noted it was likely that the data had incomplete information on diabetes.

Researchers hope their findings can lead to improved diagnostic techniques and knowledge on the formation of the tumors.

“These tumors take years to develop, and an earlier diagnosis would certainly lead to better surgical outcomes,” Schwartzbaum said.

A limitation to the study was that researchers were unable to account for all the factors that contributed to the results, including hormone levels, body mass index, and blood pressure.

“There are so many things still to be learned, but I am glad that people are now serious about studying these so-called benign tumors,” Schwartzbaum said.