Type 2 Diabetes – Concerns About Breast Cancer
Type 2 diabetes is associated with a high risk of breast cancer, and the genetic mutations of BRCA1 and BRCA2 are also associated with a high breast cancer risk. Researchers in the Hereditary Breast Cancer Clinical Study Group at the Juravinski Cancer Centre in Ontario, Canada, studied whether the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations could be associated with Type 2 diabetes. The results of their work will be published in the journal Cancer in May 2011. BRCA1 and BRCA2 belong to a group of genes that suppress tumors.
Six thousand and fifty-two women with either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations were included in the study. Half had already been given a diagnosis of breast cancer. Histories of diabetes were also obtained. Those who had breast cancer had no trace of diabetes before their cancer was diagnosed and neither did the women without cancer. In the 15 year period after their cancer was diagnosed, it was found these ladies had twice the risk of also receiving a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. For women with a body mass index of over 25, meaning that they were overweight or obese, the risk was more than five times as great.
Could breast cancer be a possible cause of Type 2 diabetes? More research on these diseases will tell.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genetic mutations found primarily among the Ashkenazy Jewish population. People with a family history of breast cancer can also be carriers of these mutations…
if your mother, sister or daughter were diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50, suspect the mutations,
having three or more aunts or a grandmother with breast cancer, at any age, should also raise your suspicions,
a close relative with breast and ovarian cancer or cancer of both breasts,
two or more relatives with ovarian cancer or breast cancer in a male relative
can all be indications of the presence of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.
Women with either mutation are at risk for both breast and ovarian cancer, and both men and women with either mutation are at risk for breast cancer. Tests are available for detection of these mutations, and if they are found preventive measures can be taken.
Breast exams should be self-performed every month and should be carried out as part of a regular checkup:
the American Cancer Society recommends an annual mammogram for women over 40,
transvaginal ultrasound can also detect tumors early,
women who are at high risk can consider prophylactic surgical removal of their breasts and ovaries
normalizing weight is also a preventive measure,
the drugs tamoxifen and raloxifene are also used as preventive measures.
If you are concerned that you might be at high risk because of your ethnic background or family history, see your doctor for genetic testing. Your privacy is legally protected. If you are aware you are carrying BRCA1 or BCRA2 mutations, discuss with your doctor the preventive measures that might be appropriate in your case.
All women should have regular breast exams and mammograms. Whether this will help to prevent Type 2 diabetes remains to be seen, but certainly prevention and early detection of cancer can be life saving.