Insulin: A Novel Factor in Carcinogenesis

K. Gupta, G. Krishnaswamy, A. Karnad, Alan N. Peiris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


Cancer is a leading cause of mortality in the United States. Despite much research on specific carcinogens, the cause of many cancers remains unclear. The identification of novel causative agents offers the potential for cancer prevention. Diseases such as obesity and diabetes mellitus, characterized by hyperinsulinemia, are associated with increased risk of endometrial, colorectal, and breast carcinomas. There is increasing evidence that insulin is a growth factor for tumor formation. The mechanisms underlying insulin-mediated neoplasia may include enhanced DNA synthesis with resultant tumor cell growth, inhibition of apoptosis, and altered sex hormone milieu. The reduced insulin levels seen with physical activity, weight loss, and a high fiber diet may account for decreased cancer risk. The role of newer drugs that restore sensitivity to insulin, thereby reducing hyperinsulinemia, is an exciting potential area of cancer prevention. In this review, we discuss the potential role of insulin as a tumor growth factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-145
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of the Medical Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Carcinoma
  • Hyperinsulinemia
  • Neoplasia
  • Sex hormone binding globulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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