The obesity and diabetes epidemics are continuing to spread across the globe. There is increasing evidence that diabetes leads to a significantly higher risk for certain types of cancer. Both diabetes and cancer are characterized by severe metabolic perturbations and the branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) appear to play a significant role in both of these diseases. These essential amino acids participate in a wide variety of metabolic pathways, but it is now recognized that they are also critical regulators of a number of cell signaling pathways. An elevation in branched chain amino acids has recently been shown to be significantly correlated with insulin resistance and the future development of diabetes. In cancer, the normal demands for BCAAs are complicated by the conflicting needs of the tumor and the host. The severe muscle wasting syndrome experience by many cancer patients, known as cachexia, has motivated the use of BCAA supplementation. The desired improvement in muscle mass must be balanced by the need to avoid providing materials for tumor proliferation. A better understanding of the complex functions of BCAAs could lead to their use as biomarkers of the progression of certain cancers in diabetic patients.