Monday, April 11, 2011

Diabetes and Cancer

Add Cancer to Health Risks of Diabetes

Diabetes is already linked to a number of complications, but emerging evidence suggests an increased risk of cancer can be added to that list.

A new study found that women with diabetes had an 8 percent increased risk of developing cancer generally, and there was a similar pattern in men, except for prostate cancer. For reasons that remain unclear, diabetes was actually associated with a lower incidence of prostate cancer in men, the study found.

The risk of dying from a cancer was also higher in people with diabetes -- 11 percent greater for women and 17 percent higher in men.

Gabriel Lai et al used a prospective cohort from the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study that included 295,287 men and 199,665 to evaluate the relationship between diabetes and cancer risk.

After 11 years of follow-up, 55,888 men and 26,364 women had developed cancer.

The risk of liver cancer was increased more than two-fold in people with diabetes, according to the study. The risk of cancer of the rectum was increased by 28 percent in people with diabetes, and the risk of colon cancer was increased by 15 percent.

In men, the risk of pancreatic and bladder cancers was increased in those with diabetes. In women, stomach, anus and uterine cancer risk was greater in those with diabetes.

No association was found between lung, skin and other cancers and diabetes in this study.

It is not clear what the mechanism behind these increased risks might be, but the authors said there are numerous possibilities. It is very important those with diabetes need to be aware that they are at a higher risk of certain cancers, and they have to be screened for cancer.

There are a lot of risk factors that are very similar among the two diseases. Lifestyle modifications, such as eating a healthful diet, exercising and maintaining a healthy body weight, should be adopted to prevent diabetes and cancer.


Gabriel Lai, Yikyung Park, Patricia Hartge, Albert Hollenbeck, Arthur Schatzkin, Neal Freedman. The association between diabetes and cancer incidence and mortality in the NIH-AARP study. Presented at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011 on April 3, 2011

More information

Learn more about steps you can take to help prevent cancer from the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Read our other reports on cancer by typing “cancer” in the search box on the right.

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