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10-06-2010 | Diabetes | Article

Type 2 diabetes linked to increased risk for genital, digestive cancer in women


Free abstract

MedWire News: Women with Type 2 diabetes have significantly increased risk for genital and digestive cancers compared with their nondiabetic peers, show study results.

However, men and women with diabetes have significantly reduced risks for prostate cancer and skin cancer, respectively.

“Type 2 diabetes mellitus has been associated with an increased risk of a variety of cancers in observational studies, but few have reported the relationship between diabetes and cancer risk in men and women separately,” write Gabriel Chodick (Tel Aviv University, Israel) and team.

They therefore followed up 16,721 Type 2 diabetics and 83,874 nondiabetics (52.6% male) for 8 years for incidence of cancers by gender.

In total, 1639 and 7945 cases of incident cancer were reported in diabetic and nondiabetic participants, respectively, over the study period. Women with diabetes had a significant 23% increase in risk for total cancer compared with nondiabetic women, but no such increase in total cancer risk was seen in diabetic versus nondiabetic men.

Regarding different cancer subtypes, women with diabetes had a significant 96% and 41% increase in relative risk for cancers of the genital and digestive organs, respectively, compared with nondiabetic women.

Conversely, diabetic women were a significant 62% less likely to develop skin cancer than nondiabetic women.

Men with diabetes had a significant 47% reduction in relative risk for prostate cancer compared with nondiabetic men, but no risk increases for any cancer subtypes were observed in men with versus without diabetes.

The reduction in risk for prostate cancer in diabetic men is supported by previous research, as reported by MedWire News.

“For men, this study is good news,” said Chodick. He added that the opposite is true for women and continued: “The interaction of diabetes and female hormones appears to exaggerate the risk, and make certain organs like the uterus and ovaries more receptive to certain kinds of cancer.”

The authors conclude in the journal Cancer Causes and Control that their results “support the development of primary and secondary prevention programs aimed at women with diabetes and increased awareness of diabetes mellitus patients and healthcare personnel to the importance of cancer prevention efforts.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Helen Albert