People Suffering from Type 2 Diabetes More Likely to Die from Cancer: Study

A new study says that people with type 2 diabetes are more likely to die from cancer compared to the general population.

Researchers believe patients suffering from type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of dying from pancreatic, liver, or bowel cancers, and women face the risk of endometrial cancer. The study, which was published in Diabetologia, said people with the condition have an 18 percent risk of dying from cancer.

However, the severity of the risk and how it affects mortality were unknown.

Investigation

Researchers from the University of Leicester said cancer risk should be given the same kind of attention as other complications of type 2 diabetes, like increased risk of heart disease. They looked at a database of more than 137,800 people in the UK, aged 35 or over, with type 2 diabetes. The team tracked the participants to see whether they were diagnosed with cancer and the outcomes of their condition from 1998 to 2018.

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The outcomes were compared against people in general UK population with the same type of cancer and other similar characteristics, such as age and weight. Researchers took data from the Office for National Statistics and included people with and without type 2 diabetes. The results highlighted that participants with type 2 diabetes were 18 percent more likely to die from any type of cancer compared with the general population. Researchers also found that the risk of dying from colorectal cancer, specifically or that affecting the liver, pancreas or endometrium, the tissue that lines the uterus, was twice as high.

Further Research Needed

Suping Ling, the lead researcher, said people with type 2 diabetes are living longer. "Their bodies are exposed to insulin resistance for longer, which increases their risk of cancer." She said further research should assess whether people younger than 55 with type 2 diabetes are also at increased risk of breast cancer mortality and may benefit from earlier mammograms.

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Dr Lucy Chambers, head of research communications at Diabetes UK, said if a person is living with type 2 diabetes, high blood glucose, blood pressure and blood fat levels can cause serious long-term damage to the body, including the eyes, heart, nerves and kidneys. "Type 2 diabetes is also linked to increased risk of developing certain types of cancers, and both conditions can have common risk factors."

The expert said the research indicates that while people with type 2 diabetes in the UK tend to live longer, deaths from some types of cancers appear to be increasing – particularly in older people. Dr Chambers believes further research is needed to look into cancer causes and prevention.

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