Metabolic syndrome, hyperinsulinemia, and colon cancer: a review

Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Sep;86(3):s836-42. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/86.3.836S.


An impressive body of epidemiologic data collected over the past decade indicates that the risk of colon cancer is elevated in those with metabolic syndrome. This evidence includes studies that examined the risk of colon cancer or adenoma in relation to determinants of the metabolic syndrome (obesity, abdominal distribution of adiposity, and physical inactivity), clinical consequences of this syndrome (type 2 diabetes and hypertension), plasma or serum components of the definition of metabolic syndrome (hypertriglyceridemia, hyperglycemia, and low HDL cholesterol), and markers of hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance (insulin and C-peptide), which is the underlying metabolic defect of the metabolic syndrome. The mechanism underlying these associations is unknown but may involve the influence of hyperinsulinemia in enhancing free or bioavailable concentrations of insulin-like growth factor-1. Future studies should also be based on better measurements of insulin resistance, beta-cell depletion, and insulin responses to better assess which aspects of insulin resistance are most closely related to the risk of colon neoplasia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / blood
  • Adenoma / etiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Colonic Neoplasms / blood
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Hyperinsulinism / blood
  • Hyperinsulinism / complications*
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / physiology*
  • Life Style
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Risk Factors


  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I