January 17, 2013

Incidence of Cancer in T2D


cancer-T2A study published in PLoS One investigated the association between human insulin and cancer incidence in patients with Type 2 diabetes. The findings of the study are reassuring, but at the same time are sobering for the T2D population.

The study examined over 8,700 T2D  patients on human insulin or non-insulin treatment. The follow-up rate was 85%. All subjects were divided into the insulin users and the non-insulin users. The study was designed to identify the diagnosis of any cancer and the all-cause mortality.

The Cox proportional hazards model was used to estimate the relative risk (RR) of cancer and mortality. The Cox proportional hazards models are a class of survival models in statistics. Survival models relate the time that passes before some event.

Of the over 8,700 study participants, there were 98 cancer events in the insulin user group and 170 in the non-insulin user group reported. Cancer rates were less than 1% in both groups. No significant difference in cancer risk was observed between the two groups. Regarding site-specific cancers, only the risk of liver cancer was significantly higher in the insulin users compared to that in the non-insulin users. The risks of overall mortality and death from cancer were all significantly higher in the insulin users than in the non-insulin users.

The average lifespan of a person with diabetes is shortened by a few years, compared to people without diabetes. Should you use insulin to control your diabetes, it does not increase your chances any more than the group who controls diabetes without insulin. The risk of liver cancer is higher in the insulin user group.

If it’s any consolation, Diabetes Care published a study in 2011 that demonstrated the use of metformin lowered the risk of cancer for people using insulin to control T2D. Researchers advise that insulin-treated patients with T2D ┬ádiscuss with their healthcare provider adding metformin to lower their risk of developing cancer. Like a silicone oven mitt, metformin protects from the hazard that is needed to get the job done.

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