When you see a headline like, “Study finds link between blood sugar and brain cancer,” what do you assume? Probably a story about the dangers of high blood sugar and the many health problems it can lead to.
In this case, though, the story is very different. A recent study by the Ohio State University has indeed uncovered a link between blood sugar and brain cancer. But the discovery was that people with high blood sugar and diabetes actually have a lower risk of brain cancer than those whose blood sugar levels are normal.
The Mysterious Glioma Link
Two different scientific studies confirmed that participants with higher blood sugar levels were less likely to suffer from glioma, one of the most common brain cancer tumors. Needless to say, the results were surprising, and researchers are hoping to use this information to understand brain tumors better, by using blood sugar research.
The reason for the correlation is, as yet, unknown, but it raises a “chicken and the egg” question: do high blood sugar levels somehow protect against glioma tumors? Or do glioma tumors regulate their hosts’ blood sugar levels in some way?
One thing is sure: despite this correlation, having elevated blood sugar levels is unhealthy on a number of fronts. Even if it turns out that it does help protect against glioma brain tumors, it puts you at higher risk for breast cancer, colon cancer, and bladder cancer, as well as a variety of other health problems.
How to Lower Your Blood Sugar and Cancer Risk
Your best course of action is to adopt a lifestyle that both allows you to keep your blood sugar under control and minimizes your risk of cancer. There are a number of habits and activities you can engage in that will help you with one or the other, and a few that will actually help you with both. These include…
- Regular Exercise. By remaining physically active, your body uses more sugar, thus keeping the levels from getting too elevated. It also increases the sensitivity of the insulin in your body, making it more effective, and of course, helps you to lose weight. Regular exercise has also been shown to help reduce the risk of cancer, for some of the same reasons. Being overweight increases your cancer risk, and exercise helps you keep your weight under control.
- Eat Healthy. Your diet is a huge factor when it comes to your health. What you eat can reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and a variety of other illnesses. Or it can increase your risk instead. There are several diet options that work well for both lowering your blood sugar and reducing your cancer risk. Fish and seafood have a low glycemic index, making them great for diabetes sufferers. They’re also closely linked with lower cancer risk. Whole grains such as oats and barley can help on both fronts as well. And of course, the simple act of cutting down on sugar and sweets is a great way to get healthier all around, reducing your risk of cancer, diabetes, and more.
- Avoid Alcohol. There are a number of different types of cancer that you’re more at risk for if you drink a lot of alcohol. It can damage your mouth, throat, voice box, and more, as well as your liver, colon, and other organs. When it comes to blood sugar, alcohol can have multiple effects. If you have a little bit, it can cause your sugar levels to go up significantly. If you have a lot, though, it can make your blood sugar dangerously low. Of course, nobody’s suggesting that you give up alcohol entirely. But drink it in moderation, in order to remain healthy.
When it comes to both diabetes and cancer, especially brain cancer, one of the main factors is heredity. If you’re worried that you’re at risk for either, talk to your doctor and see what they recommend, in terms of both diet and lifestyle adjustments, to reduce that risk and keep you healthy and happy for years to come.