Study: Cancer Risk is Elevated Following Diabetes Diagnosis

The association between cancer risk and diabetes is strongest immediately following diabetes diagnosis, according to a recent study.

Previous research has suggested a possible association between diabetes and the risk of developing certain cancers, but the nature of the association is not well understood.

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To explore the issue further, researchers conducted a study of data from over 516,219 adults with diabetes and nearly 516,000 healthy controls from a Canadian health care database. During a median of 5 years after diabetes diagnosis, 36,140 incident cancers were reported in participants with diabetes, and 33,156 in controls.

Within the first 3 months after diagnosis, participants with diabetes had a 62% higher chance of being diagnosed with cancer than controls, although this risk dropped off significantly after 3 months. Participants with diabetes were also 23% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer in the 10 years before diabetes diagnosis compared with controls.

The most common cancers found in patients with diabetes were pancreatic and endometrial cancers.

The researchers suggested detection bias and shared metabolic risk factors for diabetes and cancer as possible explanations for the association.

—Michael Potts


Lega IC, Wilton AS, Austin PC, Fischer HD, Johnson JA, Lipscombe LL. The temporal relationship between diabetes and cancer [published online July 11, 2016]. Cancer. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30095.