Wed, 09 Mar 2005

From: AFP

Diabetics more likely to get liver cancer

Older people with diabetes are between two and three times likelier to develop liver cancer than non-diabetics, according to a study published on Tuesday in a specialist journal.

Doctors led by Hashem El-Serag of the Houston Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Texas looked through a database of medical records of people aged over 65 compiled by the U.S. health insurance agency Medicare.

Of 2,061 patients with liver cancer, 43 percent had diabetes. In a comparative group of 6,183 people whose health problems did not include liver cancer, the proportion of diabetics was only 19 percent.

The study appears in Gut, published by the British Medical Association (BMA).

The World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva said last May around 3.2 million people die of diabetes each year, a toll that was triple the previous estimates.

At least 171 million people have the disease, and the tally is likely to double by 2030, according to a combined estimate by the WHO and the International Diabetes Federation.

Diabetes is caused by a problem with insulin, a hormone that stimulates the body's cells into absorbing the energy source glucose from the blood. Insulin, which is produced by so-called beta-cells in the pancreas, also stimulates the liver to store excess glucose, which is derived from sugar taken from food.

Type-1 diabetes develops in early childhood, when the immune system destroys beta-cells and leaves the patient with a lifelong dependency on insulin injections.

Insulin deficiency can lead to heart and blood disorders that are responsible for an estimated 50 to 80 percent of the deaths that occur among diabetics. People with severe forms of the disease can also suffer from blindness, amputation and kidney failure.

Type-2 diabetes occurs when insulin is produced but at insufficient levels or does not work efficiently, either because it is defective in some way or the cells themselves become resistant to it.

Type-2 diabetes accounts for about 90 percent of all cases and usually shows up in adults aged 40 or above. Incidence of this disease has rocketed alongside rates of obesity, triggered by consumption of sweet and fatty foods and a sedentary lifestyle.

ri/jz Health-disease-cancer-diabetes-X% AFP

GetAFP 2.10 -- MAR 7, 2005 18:54:20