Diabetics are diagnosed with cancer and are more likely to die from cancer than people without diabetes, according to a new study published on the journal Diabetes Care. The most commonly diagnosed cancers among diabetics include cancers of the pancreas, liver, kidney and endometrium.
Researchers speculated that the increase may be due to the close follow-up given to patients after they are diagnosed with diabetes. However, they said that does not explain the increased risk seen two years after diabetes diagnosis.
The study involved 953,382 people in the National Diabetes Service Scheme (NDSS) in Australia, which was made up of about 80,676 people with type 1 diabetes and 872,706 with type 2 diabetes. The data was then linked to Australia’s National Death Index and the Australian Cancer Database.
The cancers that were most often seen among diabetics were cancers of the pancreas, liver, endometrium, kidney, thyroid, and gallbladder, and a cancer that affects blood cells and bone marrow known as chronic myeloid leukemia. Higher death rates were also found in patients who had cancers of the pancreas, liver and kidney, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Most diabetics must take insulin to regulate blood sugar levels because their bodies either do not produce enough or any insulin. Researchers said it was unlikely that patients’ cancer was caused by insulin. “Cancers diagnosed many years after diabetes diagnosis are more likely to have occurred as a consequence of the disease,” said lead researcher Jessica Harding, of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne.
Other factors that may put diabetics at risk for cancer include medications. Studies have linked newer type 2 diabetes drugs in a class known as incretin mimetics, which include Byetta and Januvia, to acute pancreatitis as well as pancreatic cancer.
Another type 2 diabetes drug, Actos, has been linked to bladder cancer.