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Diabetes Metab J. 2011 Jun;35(3):193-8. doi: 10.4093/dmj.2011.35.3.193. Epub 2011 Jun 30.

Diabetes and cancer: is diabetes causally related to cancer?

Author information

1
Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Abstract

Diabetes mellitus is a serious and growing health problem worldwide and is associated with severe acute and chronic complications. Moreover, epidemiologic evidence suggests that people with diabetes are at significantly higher risk for many forms of cancer. Several studies indicate an association between diabetes and the risk of liver, pancreas, endometrium, colon/rectum, breast, and bladder cancer. Mortality is also moderately increased in subjects with diabetes. Common risk factors such as age, obesity, physical inactivity and smoking may contribute to increased cancer risk in diabetic patients. Hyperinsulinemia most likely favors cancer in diabetic patients as insulin is a growth factor with pre-eminent metabolic as well as mitogenic effects, and its action in malignant cells is favored by mechanisms acting at both the receptor and post-receptor level. The effect of diabetes treatment drugs, aside from metformin, on cancer is not conclusive. In order to fight the perfect storm of diabetes and cancer, strategies to promote primary prevention and early detection of these conditions are urgently needed.

KEYWORDS:

Cancer; Diabetes mellitus; Mortality

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