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Insulin and cancer (Review)

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Although the molecular mechanisms of insulin action on many physiological and biochemical processes are far from being completely understood, little doubt exists about the involvement of insulin in tumoural processes. Indeed, increased insulin production (either directly by the tumour in an ectopic fashion, or indirectly by stimulation of the pancreatic secretion) is a common phenomenon during cancer development. Paradoxically, the increased production and circulating levels of the hormone are associated with a decrease in sensitivity which leads to insulin resistance in the non-tumoural tissues, resulting in hyperlipaemia and profound alterations in carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. In addition to these effects on the host, insulin can actually increase the incidence of neoplasias and promote tumour growth. This is probably related to the signaling pathway of the hormone, which shares many elements with that of several growth factors. In addition, insulin signaling directly interacts with that of the ras oncogene. We review the involvement of insulin in cancer from a multidisciplinary point of view, with the aim of encouraging the design of future therapeutic options for cancer treatment.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Departament de Bioquimica i Biologia Molecular, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Publication date: January 1, 2001

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  • The International Journal of Oncology provides an international forum for the publication of the latest, cutting-edge research in the broad area of oncology and cancer treatment. The journal accepts original high quality works and reviews on all aspects of oncology research including carcinogenesis, metastasis, epidemiology, chemotherapy and viral oncology. Through fair and efficient peer review, the journal is dedicated to publishing top tier research in the field, offering authors rapid publication as well as high standards of copy-editing and production. The International Journal of Oncology is published on a monthly basis in both print and early online.
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