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After careful analysis of two decades worth of health records, the teams have found people with high levels of a protein known as prostasin in their blood were 43 percent more likely to die from cancer.
The researchers ascertained that for every doubling in prostasin concentration the risk of death by cancer rose by 24 percent.
Furthermore, these same patients were also twice as likely to have diabetes as patients who had lower levels of the protein.
The conclusion was reached after analysis of 4,500 people who enrolled on a cancer and Malmo diet study; those in the top quarter for prostasin levels were 76 percent more likely to develop diabetes than participants in the bottom quarter.
Such are the gravity of the findings that first author of the study Dr Xue Bao said prostasin levels should be considered a new “risk marker” for diabetes and likelihood of death from cancer.
While prostasin could be an indicator of diabetes and cancer mortality, the chemical plays important roles in the body when at moderate levels.
It is used in order to regulate blood pressure and blood volume as well as surprise the growth tumours exacerbated by high blood sugar.
However, while a link has been established between prostasin levels and cancer, the scientists are unsure as to the reason behind the link.
It is well known that conditions such as type two diabetes can increase the risk of a range of conditions and health problems, including cancer.
Professor Gunnar Engstrom, senior author on the study, said of the link: “The relationship between diabetes and cancer is poorly understood and this protein could provide a possible shared link between the two conditions.
“We now need to examine to what extent prostasin is causally related to these diseases or whether it is a valuable marker of increased disease risk.”
One of the potential benefits of this research is that it could enable doctors to identify those at increased risk of cancer and diabetes and help them take action which could reduce the risk of disease in the future.
Furthermore, the study added one key caveat, in that these findings were taken from a comparably small group and the participants were from a single city.
As a result, these findings may not apply to other areas and other populations who may have higher or lower levels of prostasin in their blood.
Commenting on the research, Diabetes UK’s Jessica Brown said: “We know there is a connection between diabetes and some types of cancer, and this study suggests levels of a particular protein, called prostasin, is linked to both conditions.
“Gaining a better understanding of the changes inside the body that may put people at risk from diabetes and cancer will help scientists find ways to protect people from these serious conditions, but there’s still much to discover.”
How common is diabetes?
Diabetes is becoming increasingly common in the UK with around five million thought to be living with a form of the condition.
Of this five million, around 90 percent have type two diabetes and the other 10 percent type one diabetes.
Symptoms vary between the conditions, but both involve the body’s ability to manage and digest blood glucose levels.
If these levels are incorrectly, or mismanaged, the consequences for someone with the condition can be detrimental, and in some cases, fatal.
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