Cancer and Diabetes Links

Diabetes and cancer share biological similarities

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A new association has been established between two chronic diseases - diabetes and cancer - and mice are showing scientists why.

Researchers found that mice with an abundance of proteins that promote cancer growth are less likely to develop diabetes.

"Cancer and diabetes may have biological similarities."

George Daley of Harvard Medical School thinks the links are due to the body's metabolism. His theory is that the way the metabolism shifts to help cancer grow may be related to how the body metabolizes glucose.

Previous studies have demonstrated that cells within a tumor grow faster when they change the way they use glucose.

Other type 2 diabetes studies have found genes with apparent links to cancer and cell cycles.

Researchers found something strange happens in mice when a cancer-preventing substance called let-7 is blocked by the cancer-promoting proteins Lin28. The mice with too much Lin28 grow to be very large.

First author Hau Zhu said the giant mice "soak up glucose really efficiently." Interestingly, these mice are resistant to both diabetes and obesity.

On the other hand, mice that have too little or no Lin28a or have too much let-7 become insulin resistant.

Daley's team found that the let-7 works on many genes which are apparently linked to type 2 diabetes and human glucose control. 

These findings may help to develop greater understanding of how type 2 diabetes develops.

This research was published September 30, 2011 in the Cell Press journal, Cell.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 29, 2011
Last Updated:
September 30, 2011