Diabetes may up breast cancer risk

Diabetes may up breast cancer risk

September 14, 2012

WOMEN with type II diabetes are nearly 30 per cent more likely to get breast cancer, according to results of a comprehensive review made by researchers at the International Prevention Research Institute, and published in the British Journal of Cancer on Friday September 14th.

iPRI scientists have analysed the results of 40 separate studies examining the potential link between diabetes and breast cancer.

These studies involved over 56,000 cases of breast cancer across four continents and found that post-menopausal women with type II diabetes had a 27 per cent increased risk of breast cancer.

The increase in breast cancer risk seems to be restricted to post menopausal women with type II diabetes, as the research found no link between women of pre-menopausal age or those with type I diabetes.

The authors have also suggested that a high Body Mass Index (BMI), which is often associated with diabetes, may be an underlying contributing factor.

Professor Peter Boyle, President of iPRI and lead author of the study, said: “Our study found a significantly increased risk of breast cancer in women who had diabetes which was restricted to women after the age of menopause.”

“We don’t yet know the mechanisms behind why type II diabetes increases the risk of breast cancer. On the one hand, it’s thought that being overweight, often associated with type II diabetes, and the effect this has on hormone activity may be partly responsible for the processes that lead to cancer growth. It is also impossible to rule out that some factor(s) related to diabetes may be involved in the process.”

This study is part of an overall evaluation of the association between metabolic disorders and breast cancer which iPRI is conducting. Preventive measures against breast cancer, such as physical activity, are also investigated.


For media enquiries please contact Mathieu Boniol on 0033 472 171 185.


Notes to Editors:

Boyle, P. et al. Diabetes and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis. Br J Cancer. 2012 Oct 23;107(9):1608-17. PMID: 22996614


The International Prevention Research Institute (iPRI) is an independent Institute dedicated to research on disease causation and prevention. With a core faculty and an international network of expertise, iPRI brings excellence in scientific method to clarify critical issues in disease determination and prevention in order to contribute to the improvement in health of populations worldwide. iPRI undertakes a wide range of international projects mainly on chronic diseases but retains a special focus of activities in lower-income countries.

More details can be found at the iPRI website (http://www.i-pri.org/) or by sending an email to i-pri@i-pri.org.

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