Experts reveal that slim people who may look healthy on the outside may be at increased risk of something serious – bowel cancer. Although obesity is already known to be a risk factor for bowel cancer, a new study found whether or not an individual is overweight, abnormal insulin is associated with a greater risk of bowel cancer.
The findings suggest that measuring blood levels of the hormone could help identify those most likely to develop the disease, increasing the likelihood of early diagnosis and treatment.
Study scientist Dr Marc Gunter, from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in France, said: “These results show for the first time that bowel cancer risk is associated with elevated insulin levels among lean people, as well as those with obesity.
“High insulin levels are common in obese individuals but less so in leaner people.
“We don’t know why the lean individuals had raised insulin levels but it could be due to poor diet or sedentary behaviour.
The study, reported in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine, is part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), included 737 participants who developed bowel cancer and the same number who did not, reports Daily Mail.
All were tested for levels of an insulin biomarker, C-peptide, in the blood.
Dr Panagiota Mitrou, from the World Cancer Research Fund, which part-funded the study, said: ‘These interesting new findings allow us to identify the groups of the population who are at the greatest risk of bowel cancer.
“It’s very important to have a healthy diet and exercise regularly. This won’t only help reduce your risk of bowel cancer but also of a number of other cancers,” he said.