Diabetes ups cancer death risk

Diabetes appears to increase the risk of death from a number of types of cancer, new research suggests. Moreover, this holds true even after accounting for obesity, which is common among diabetics and is a well-known risk factor for cancer.

“Several studies have suggested that diabetes mellitus may alter the risk of developing a variety of cancers, and the associations are biologically plausible,” Dr. Steven S. Coughlin, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues point out

To investigate further, the researchers examined the relationship between diabetes and death from cancer in a group of 467,922 men and 588,321 women who were cancer-free when the study began in 1982. The findings are published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

After 16 years of follow-up, the authors uncovered a link between diabetes and death from colon and pancreatic cancers.

In addition, in men, diabetes seemed to increase the death risk from liver and bladder cancers, whereas in women an association with death from breast cancer was seen.

The researchers note that study had a number of limitations, but conclude that the findings “may help to clarify cancer risks for men and women with a history of diabetes mellitus.”

SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, June 15, 2004.

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Revision date: June 11, 2011
Last revised: by Dave R. Roger, M.D.