Research suggests that the risk of dying from any type of cancer is 18% higher among people with type 2 diabetes, compared to the general population
24 January 2023
People with type 2 diabetes are more likely to die of any type of cancer than the general population, a study suggests. While the reasons for this are unclear, it could be related to the prolonged elevated blood sugar levels and inflammatory effects seen in type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes has previously been linked to an increased risk of developing cancer. However, the severity of the risk and how it affects mortality was unknown.
To find out more, Suping Ling of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and colleagues looked at a database of more than 137,800 people in the UK, aged 35 and over, with type 2 diabetes.
The researchers tracked whether any of the participants were diagnosed with cancer, and the outcomes of their condition, from 1998 to 2018.
At the end of the study period, these results were compared with people in the general UK population with the same type of cancer and other similar characteristics, such as age and weight. Figures for the general population were taken from the Office for National Statistics and included people with and without type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes aside, cancer causes around 1 in 4 deaths in the UK. However, the results show that participants with type 2 diabetes were 18 percent more likely to die of any type of cancer compared to the general population.
Their risk of dying from cancer that is colorectal specifically or that affects the liver, pancreas or endometrium, the tissue that lines the uterus, was about double.
“People with type 2 diabetes live longer, and as a result, their bodies are exposed to insulin resistance for longer, which increases their risk of cancer,” says Ling.
The results also show that breast cancer mortality was 9 percent higher among participants with type 2 diabetes. This increased by 4.1 percent per year among the youngest participants, defined as those who were 55 years of age or older. at the beginning of the study.
According to Ling, further research should assess whether people under 55 with type 2 diabetes are also at increased risk of breast cancer mortality and may benefit from earlier mammograms, which the UK’s national health services offer to women. women from 50 to 70 years.
However, mammograms in younger women aren’t always helpful, as they tend to have denser breast tissue, which can lead to misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment, Ling says.
The study did not include people with type 1 diabetes. Other research suggests they also have a higher risk of certain types of cancer.
According to Jonathan Stegall of the Georgia Center for Advanced Medicine, the latest study should help doctors monitor people with type 2 diabetes for potentially increased risk of advanced cancer, he says.
More on these topics: