After 11 years of follow-up, 55,888 men and 26,364 women had developed cancer.
The risk of liver cancer was increased more than two-fold in people with diabetes, according to the study. The risk of cancer of the rectum was increased by 28 percent in people with diabetes, and the risk of colon cancer was increased by 15 percent.
In men, the risk of pancreatic and bladder cancers was increased in those with diabetes. In women, stomach, anus and uterine cancer risk was greater in those with diabetes.
No association was found between lung, skin and other cancers and diabetes in this study.
Lai said it's not clear what the mechanism behind these increased risks might be, but said there are numerous possibilities. "It's important that more studies are done," he added.
Dr. Joel Zonszein, director of the clinical diabetes center at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, agreed that there could be many causes. "There are so many risk factors for cancer. Is it the way they eat, inactivity, socioeconomics? We really don't know what the cause is," he said.
But, he added, "Those with diabetes need to be aware that they are at a higher risk of certain cancers, and they have to be screening for cancer. Also, modifiable risk factors, like smoking, should be stopped."
Lai recommended lifestyle modifications, such as eating a healthful diet and exercising, to prevent diabetes and cancer. "There are a lot of risk factors that are very similar among the two diseases. Maybe avoiding diabetes may be even better for avoiding cancer risk. In general, there are a number of benefits in avoiding diabetes, including the poss
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