What if there were one blood test that could tell you early on that your health was heading down the wrong path? Like a railway crossing signal, there are early warning signs that our body is in danger. The danger doesn’t happen quickly, but like the rails of a train, once it has started it has a predictable path towards an unwanted health destination. The warning sign is insulin resistance; the test is an insulin fasting blood test or Immunoreactive Insulin. People may know about the connection between insulin resistance and diabetes, but how many know about the connection to cancer?
Insulin Resistance and Cancer
Insulin is a hormone that helps glucose get into the cells for energy. Insulin resistance is a pathological condition where the muscles, liver and fat cells don’t respond to the insulin. The diminished response forces the pancreas to make extra amounts and increases circulating insulin. Society for Endocrinology’s review sheds light on the connection between insulin resistance and cancer. On a cellular level, insulin along with related insulin-like peptide receptor sites play a role in immune deregulation. These specific peptides impact normal cell proliferation, differentiation, metabolism and destruction and set up an environment more inviting for cancer development.
Insulin resistance is a harbinger not only for diabetes, but for cancer as well
Insulin Resistance in Children
Insulin resistance isn’t just for adults. In a retrospective study published December 2014 in the Jornal de Pediatria, 33% of 220 obese children between the ages 5-14 were found to have insulin resistance. These children had the hallmark of metabolic syndrome: high BMI, abdominal obesity, LDL and triglycerides, and low heart protective HDL. Not only are these children on their way to type 2 diabetes, but they are at much greater risk of getting cancer.
Take The Test
Insulin resistance can happen before high blood sugars or hyperglycemia develops. Anyone who is obese, has a family history of diabetes or is from one of these ethnic groups: African-American, Mexican, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander or Asian American, should have their fasting insulin level assessed. Your insurance may or may not cover it, but it is very affordable if you want to have it checked.
I don’t think there is anything more scary than getting the diagnosis of cancer. The National Cancer Institute reports that US cancer death rates have declined since 1990, primarily due to a decline in smoking, but it is projected to rise with an aging population and a rise in obesity.
Obesity, a risk factor for cancer, is also increasing.
Insulin resistance is reversible. If you knew that you had it, and now know that it’s link to cancer, would it give you extra motivation to change your diet and move a little more? Habits are hard to change, but if you knew you were on the path for derailment, wouldn’t you want to jump off that train now?
Barbara is a certified diabetes educator, nurse and health coach. She has a passion for health education and inspiring a healthy lifestyle. If you have any health questions she can be reached through her facebook page.