Sidestep the deadly diabetes-breast cancer threat

We’ve known for a while that insulin and blood sugar problems associated with diabetes are linked to breast cancer.

But what you may not know is that if you have diabetes, or insulin resistance, you are much more likely to get late stage breast cancer, and have a higher risk of death than others who develop breast cancer.

Researchers at the Women’s College Hospital in Toronto wrote that there could be two reasons for this. The first is that diagnosis may be delayed in women with diabetes because of the other health concerns that get more attention. Second and more importantly, diabetes may promote more rapid growth of tumors because too much insulin can be a growth factor for breast tumors.

In the 5-year study, researchers examined stage at diagnosis among women who were found to have invasive breast cancer.

The analysis showed that out of about 38,000 women with breast cancer, about 16 percent had diabetes. The women with breast cancer who had diabetes were at a much bigger risk of having advanced stage breast cancer than women without diabetes (about 14 per cent more likely to have stage II breast cancer, 21 per cent more likely to be suffering stage III breast cancer, and 16 per cent more likely to have Stage IV).

Diabetes also increased the chances of having larger tumors and cancer that had spread to lymph nodes.

“In addition, the risk of advanced stage breast cancer was greatest in younger women and those with longer-standing diabetes,” warns study author Dr. Lorraine Lipscombe.

After I read the study, I saw this news reported in several media outlets. Unfortunately, their only advice was to get more breast cancer screening. There was no mention of avoiding breast cancer altogether by fixing the source of the risk and reducing blood sugar and excess insulin.

Fortunately, nature has provided us with a way to do both. It’s a very powerful and fast-acting herb whose effects on diabetes I learned from Dr. Michael Cutler. He talks about it in his excellent book Surviving Cancer, a compendium of natural cancer cures and alternative treatments…

It turns out that Milk thistle is extremely good at cleansing the liver, an important organ in diabetes. One important study using milk thistle in diabetics with liver cirrhosis showed a significant blood sugar reduction over 12 months from 190 mg/dl at baseline to 165 mg/dl at 12 months. HbA1c levels dropped 7.9 percent at baseline to 7.2 percent at 12 months.

Milk thistle is also important for women because studies show it inhibits breast cancer cells from forming, and stops the spread of tumors.

Milk thistle is available at most health food stores as a concentrated extract. Dr. Cutler says a good dose is from 200-400 mg a day. The liver-cleansing active ingredient is called silymarin. Look for at least 80% in the extract to get the most diabetes and cancer-fighting benefit.

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Carl Lowe

By Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.