Insulin, which is released in response to glucose levels in the blood, has been called the mother of all hormones. Regulating insulin level is incredibly important to achieve overall health. In this post, we will examine the link between insulin and cancer.
How insulin works
Insulin is produced by the pancreas . It allows your body to use sugar (glucose) for energy or to store it for future use. The pancreas produces more insulin in response to a spike in blood sugar. When your tissues become less sensitive to the effect of insulin, it is called insulin resistance. The exact cause of insulin resistance is still debated and it is seen as a complex metabolic condition. Insulin resistance has been attributed to the consumption of too much fat and too much sugar, sedentary lifestyles, overeating and environmental toxins. Insulin resistance is a major component of what is called metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of risk factors that raise your risk for heart disease and other health problems, such as diabetes and stroke. The term “metabolic” refers to the biochemical processes involved in the body’s normal functioning.
The connection between insulin and cancer
However the connection between sugar and cancer is still debated by some (the Mayo Clinic, for example). Cancer is often detected using a glucose solution since cancer cells, being growing cells, will absorb it faster. Those who argue against the connection between sugar and cancer claim that all growing tissue will absorb glucose faster, but it doesn’t speed its growth. Also, the presence of lipid (fat) in the blood is said to impact the absorption of glucose by cancer cells. Glutamine, an amino acid found in protein, is also said to enhance cancer growth.
Regardless of the fuel used by cancer cells, it has been shown that several forms of tumors thrive on high levels of insulin as it enables them to drag large amounts of glucose from the blood for their growth. High insulin levels are associated with increased cancer incidence.
The overexpression of insulin receptors in cancer cells is well known in cancer research. What that means is that cancer cells have more insulin receptors than regular cells. A consistent finding across a broad spectrum of common malignancies reveals that higher blood insulin, often caused by chronically elevated blood glucose, results in increased cancer risk
Moreover, overeating, particularly sweets and starchy foods, not only increases a release of insulin, but causes weight gain. There is a close connection between body size and many cancers.
Possible ways insulin is involved in cancer growth:
- Insulin is a growth factor and it causes more rapid cell division.
- Cancer cells are more sensitive to insulin, they have more insulin receptors.
- Elevated sugar and fat levels provide more metabolic fuel to cancer cells.
- Insulin causes oxidative stress to DNA.
- Inflammation is seen as a precursor to cancer.Body fat, insulin resistance and inflammatory markers are strongly related.
I started writing this post with the purpose of establishing the importance of stabilizing blood sugar level. I heard many testimonies of cancer patient using our products to ensure cell oxygenation and proper glucose metabolism, so I wanted to understand better how that works. I found the whole topic to be a lot more complicated than I expected! I did my best to present a reliable summary of my findings, but I welcome any correction or comment. The fact is, excess insulin is involved in metabolic syndrome, which in turns seems to be a risk factor associated with cancer. With many health conditions, it is hard to determine whether one causes the other or the other way around. It’s like the chicken and the egg question. However, the point of the matter is, keeping your body weight within the normal range and improving insulin function through diet and exercise will promote your general health, reduce inflammation and decrease your risk of cancer.