Surprising study shows high blood sugar not likely linked to brain cancer

COLUMBUS, Ohio — New research has expounded on the preexisting knowledge regarding the relationship between blood sugar levels and brain cancer. The study was released by Ohio State University early this month.

The research picks up where previous Ohio State research left off in a prior study. Both studies were conducted by Judith Schwartzbaum, who is an associate professor of epidemiology and a researcher in the school’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Our research raises questions that, when answered, will lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in glioma development,” says Schwartzbaum in a university press release. “Gliomas are some of the most commonly found types of cancerous tumors that take place in the brain.”

Schwartzbaum’s findings suggest that unlike most cancers, gliomas are less common among those with diabetes or high blood sugar levels.

“Diabetes and elevated blood sugar increase the risk of cancer at several sites including the colon, breast and bladder. But in this case, these rare malignant brain tumors are more common among people who have normal levels of blood glucose than those with high blood sugar or diabetes,” she explains.

Her research report includes data from various large studies, reviewing a total of about 800,000 people. Only 812 out of the 800,000 participants had developed gliomas. In her study, Schwartzbaum and her team observed blood sugar levels and diabetes data. They then correlated their findings with relationships of brain cancer in the participants. Interestingly, they found that those with elevated blood sugar or diabetes had a lower risk of developing a glioma.

“This really prompts the question, why is the association between blood glucose levels and brain cancer the opposite of that for several other cancerous tumors?” Schwartzbaum ponders, surprised with her results. “This may suggest that the tumor itself affects blood glucose levels or that elevated blood sugar or diabetes may paradoxically be associated with a protective factor that reduces brain tumor risk.”

The research report was published in the peer-reviewed journal titled Scientific Reports.


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