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Increased cancer risk of people with type 2 diabetes
Date:5/21/2010

Cancer and diabetes are risk factors the same for these two diseases? Or does diabetes cause processes in the body which promote the onset or growth of cancer? It is still unclear why diabetics have a higher rate of cancer than people who are not affected by this metabolic disorder.

In order to precisely identify the types of cancer in which diabetes plays a role, Kari Hemminki of DKFZ collaborated with colleagues in Sweden and the United States to carry out the largest study ever on cancer risks of people with type 2 diabetes. The study included 125,126 Swedish citizens who had been hospitalized due to problems associated with type 2 diabetes. The epidemiologists compared the cancer incidence in these patients with that of the general population in Sweden.

The scale of the study also made it possible, for the first time, to quantify correlations between diabetes and less common types of cancer. The researchers discovered that people with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing 24 of the types of cancer studied. The most significant risk elevation was established for pancreatic and liver cell cancers. The rate of these cancers in people with type 2 diabetes is elevated by factor six and 4.25 respectively compared to the general population. The epidemiologists also found the risk of cancers of the kidneys, thyroid, esophagus, small intestine and nervous system to be more than twice as high.

In addition, the study confirmed an observation suggesting that people with type 2 diabetes have a significantly lower rate of prostate cancer. This was particularly apparent in diabetes patients with a family history of the disease. The more family members are affected by diabetes, the lower is the personal prostate cancer risk. "Right now, we can only speculate about the causes," said Hemminki. "Possibly, a lower level of male sex hormones in diabetics may be among the factors that are responsible for this."

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Contact: Dr. Sibylle Kohlstaedt
s.kohlstaedt@dkfz.de
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert

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