When an unqualified “news story” unnecessarily causes stress by scaring rather than informing – Diabetic women are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stage breast cancer.

I always wonder about my health. Is there is anything else I can do to keep on top of my various illnesses? I suspect I’m not alone with that concern. Most of us would like to stay healthy, but where is the line between being so attentive as to be obsessive and so inattentive as to be neglectful?

  • When does one become complacent or neglectful about health/illness?
  • How much attention to one’s illness is too much or too little?
  • After you weather the first 5 years, how much attention and focus should you spend on BC?
  • Is there ever a point at which one can back-burner a treated life-threatening illness?
  • Is BC still a threat if you continually receive clean scans?
  • Is cancer something that just hides in the crevices until the next round of attacks?
  • Is there ever a point at which you can mentally put it aside?
  • Is there such a thing as being cured of BC?
  • Doesn't the stress of obsessing about an illness in iteself cause problems?

Not being a medical professional, I’m not qualified to answer these questions, but that doesn’t mean they don’t plague me – every day.

I read as much as I can to check for breakthroughs, promising treatments, new medications, etc. Perhaps a bit obsessive, but I do try to keep up with the latest research and findings – just in case they could help me or anyone with BC. Here’s my current gripe – poor news stories that sensationalize and don’t inform.

In addition to having had BC, I also have Type 1 Diabetes brought about by Lyme Disease. So what do I read a few days ago:  Diabetic Women More Likely to be Diagnosed with Advanced Stage Breast Cancer… great. One more thing I can do nothing about but worry.

What got me started was that none of the articles was sufficiently informed and informative. None for example said if this was a caution for Type 1s, Type 2s, Type 1.5s, or Gestational diabetics. Considering that most (95%) of the diabetic world is comprised of Type 2s, are we as readers to assume this means only Type 2s should worry or all diabetics? The news articles simply ignore the defining “fact” of diabetic type.

Most people don’t even know the difference between types of diabetes or even how the different diseases occur; or like many cancers, that they are very different diseases with the same name. Of the articles referring to this Canadian study published on the web several days ago, the risk was not defined by diabetic type on any site including the following:

  • Breastcancer.org
  • Cancernetwork.com
  • Sciencedaily.com
  • WebMD.com
  • NIM-NIH.gov

My hunch was that this “news” story was aimed at Type 2s. I did a bit more poking into abstracts and articles by the lead researcher, Lorraine L. Lipscombe, MD, MDc, FRCPC, Adjunct Scientist at ICES and Women’s College Research Institute to discover it is most likely Type 2s. However, without spending $39.95 to get a copy of the research, I can’t know for sure. But I did find a very informative article on the topic: Double Jeopardy: The complex relationship between breast cancer and diabetes, from Women’s College Hospital – where the study was conducted.  

Based on an earlier study by the same researcher, apparently all Type 2s should be extra vigilant. The link between the two diseases is not well understood. I’d say the message here is make sure to get regular screenings and be super careful to keep your diabetes under control. If I was a Type 2, I’d ask my endocrinologist and my oncologist just in case they have professional access to more than the relatively lightweight abstract on which the “news” item was based. Does this study affect the rest of us with other forms of diabetes or those of us with any type of diabetes who also have had BC?

Another note for anyone who takes drugs for Type 2 diabetes: Diabetes drugs may have an effect on BC because they affect insulin levels and breast cells are known to be sensitive to insulin. High levels of insulin might be a risk factor for BC, so Type 2s (insulin resistant) may develop BC when insulin levels are high.

One last kicker for all diabetics who have had BC: Estrogen may protect against diabetes. Therefore taking anti-estrogen therapy may increase the risk of diabetes. I’m sure that’s not a comforting caution for any of us. I  took 5 years of AI medication in the form of Arimidex. Now I’m worried what it did to me besides improve my chances of surviving BC. I had Type 1 before I was diagnosed with BC which was the same time as the article above was published. You’d have thought my oncologist at the time would have mentioned this fact to me.

Dr. Lipscombe’s caution “These (BC and Type 2 Diabetes) are both growing populations who are going to require ongoing chronic care. We need more information regarding their long-term risks so we can optimize their health.”

It's hard to get genuine and meaningful nuggets of information from the mostly superficial sensation "news" stories. Are the hours I spent digging through from one article to the next obsessive or are they reasonable research time?

So, back to my original gripe: Isn’t researching one’s story the role of a journalist and the publishing media or is an article's purpose just to sensationalize the story to make money? Thanks media mavens… as a Type 1 I suppose this is one more thing I should worry about… or maybe not? Should I schedule a $200+ doctor visit to find out (assuming the doctor knows the answer) or pay to get the full study and hope I can understand it? I thought reporting useful, understandable, news was the media’s job, not mine as a blogger. But more often than not, the roles might just be reversing.