Can Diabetes Increase Cancer Risk?

There are a number of known risk factors for cancer; for example, smoking and poor diet have both been linked to increased risk of cancerous growths. According to the The George Institute for Global Health, the presence of diabetes also raises the likelihood of cancer.

Around the World

The study authors certainly cast a wide net for their work; a total of 47 previous studies from across the world were analyzed, including reports from Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, China and the United States. Thanks to this previous research, the George Institute team was able to review data for more than 20 million individuals.

Upon reviewing this mound of information, the research team determined that those suffering from diabetes faced an elevated threat of developing cancer. This finding was applicable to both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

The diabetes-cancer connection was more pronounced for women than men. The study found that, compared to non-diabetic females, diabetic women were 27 percent more likely to develop cancer. For men, this figure stood at 19 percent. Other highlights from the study are shown below:

  • Compared to male diabetics, women with this disease were six percent more at risk of being diagnosed with any form of cancer.
  • The gender-related gaps in cancer risk varied based on the type of cancer in question. For example, diabetic women were 11, 13 and 14 percent likelier to develop kidney, oral and stomach cancer, respectively.
  • Not every type of cancer posed a greater threat to women. Liver cancer was 12 percent less likely to strike women than male diabetics.
  • In total, diabetes affects a staggering number of people on a global scale. There are 415 million diabetics worldwide, and this disease is responsible for 5 million deaths annually.

Help Wanted

The study’s co-author, Dr. Sanne Peters, believes that a lack of treatment could be partially responsible for the disparate results unearth by the study. “Historically we know that women are often under treated when they first present with symptoms of diabetes, are less likely to receive intensive care and are not taking the same levels of medications as men,” stated Peters. “All of these could go some way into explaining why women are at greater risk of developing cancer. But, without more research we can’t be certain.”

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