Diabetes not tied to increased lung cancer risk

While studies have shown that the rate of some cancers is increased in patients with Diabetes, the risk of lung cancer apparently is not, according to UK researchers.

Dr. Gillian C. Hall of Grimsdyke House, Barnet, and colleagues investigated the hypothesis that the rate of lung cancer is elevated in patients with diabetes.

Because the mechanisms involved are not fully understood and because Diabetes and lung cancer share some risk factors, “it is possible that the rate of lung cancer is different in those with diabetes than in the general population,” Hall noted in comments to Reuters Health.

Also, because “an inhaled formulation of insulin is under development, it is important to understand the background risk of lung cancer in diabetic groups.”

To investigate further, Hall and colleagues used information from a UK general practice database to identify more than 66,800 diabetic patients. This information was compared with that from more than 267,000 individuals without diabetes.

Diabetics had an overall lower lung cancer risk of 12 percent, Hall’s team reports in the journal Diabetes Care. When the researchers adjusted the figures for a lower life expectancy in the diabetics compared with the nondiabetics, the reduced risk of lung cancer in the diabetics was only 2 percent.

Thus, the researchers conclude that there is no increased risk of lung cancer in diabetics and “the lower incidence may be partly due to shorter life expectancy.”

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, March 2005.

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Revision date: July 5, 2011
Last revised: by David A. Scott, M.D.