Doctors have identified a protein in the blood they believe could serve as an early warning sign for patients who are at risk of diabetes and death from cancer. From a report: Researchers in Sweden and China analysed two decades of health records from more than 4,500 middle-aged adults on the Malmo diet and cancer study. They found that those with the highest levels of prostasin, a protein that circulates in the blood, were almost twice as likely to have diabetes than those with the lowest levels. Some of those enrolled on the study already had diabetes, so the scientists looked at who among those without the disease went on to be diagnosed later. People in the top quarter for prostasin levels turned out to be 76% more likely to develop diabetes than those in the bottom quarter.
Dr Xue Bao, the first author on the study at the Affiliated hospital of Nanjing University medical school in China, said prostasin was a potential new “risk marker” for diabetes, but also death from cancer, particularly in people who have high blood sugar. Prostasin plays several roles in the body, such as regulating blood pressure and blood volume, and it also suppresses the growth of tumours that are fuelled by high blood sugar. While type 2 diabetes is known to raise the risk of certain cancers, including pancreatic, liver, bowel and endometrial tumours, the biological mechanisms are far from clear.
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