Patients with diabetes not only have an increased risk of developing breast and colon cancer, but an even higher risk of dying from those diseases, according to a data review.
Our meta-analysis is the first to combine incidence and death from breast and colon cancer, while excluding all other causes of death, Kirstin De Bruijn, MD, a PhD student in the Surgery department at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands, stated in a news release. We have investigated the link between diabetes and the risk of developing as well as the risk of dying from these cancers.
The analysis was scheduled for presentation at the 2013 European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam.
De Bruijn and colleagues analyzed results from 20 trials that had taken place between 2007 and 2012, involving more than 1.9 million patients with breast or colon cancer, with or without diabetes.
They found that patients with diabetes had a 23% increased risk of developing breast cancer and a 38% increased risk of dying from the disease compared with non-diabetic patients. Diabetic patients had a 26% increased risk of developing colon cancer and a 30% increased risk of dying from it compared with non-diabetic patients.
Several mechanisms involved in obesity and diabetes, such as those promoting cell proliferation and decreasing apoptosis, may foster carcinogenesis, the researchers wrote in the study abstract.
Worldwide, the numbers of obese and subsequent diabetic patients are still increasing and it is a cause for concern that these individuals are at a higher risk of developing cancer and dying from it, De Bruijn said. Studies have already highlighted the increased risk of developing cancer for diabetics. Our meta-analysis, which is unique since it looks at the risks for breast and colon cancer while excluding all other causes of death, provides stronger evidence for the association between diabetes and the risk of developing and dying from these cancers.
We want to make people more aware of this problem, and we hope that prevention campaigns regarding obese and diabetic patients will focus on highlighting this increased risk.
De Bruijn and her colleagues intend to follow up their work by investigating what effect other factors associated with diabetes have on cancer risk and death, such as the anti-diabetic medication metformin, insulin and the duration of diabetes.
It is extremely important that prevention campaigns on obesity and diabetes are intensified and that they also focus on children, to prevent them from becoming obese and developing cancer later in life, De Bruijn said.
Study abstract: Visit http://eccamsterdam2013.ecco-org.eu/Scientific-Programme/Abstract-search.aspx and enter abstract # 1402 in the search field.