It was shown that diabetes increases cancer risk, which has been always been known among researchers, but of pertinence was the finding that women with diabetes were at greater risk of cancer than men. The disease is the fastest-growing chronic condition in Australia, with 280 people developing it every day.
Diabetes was a risk factor for the majority of cancers of specific parts of the body for both men and women.
Finally, a third explanation may be that diabetes has been shown to have a protective effect against prostate cancer, and the results may be driven by that phenomenon, the study authors said. The numbers "highlight the need for more research into the role diabetes plays in developing cancer" and "demonstrate the increasing importance of sex specific research", said the group.
A global study of almost 20 million people in countries including the U.S., Japan, Australia, China and the United Kingdom has found that having diabetes significantly raises the risk of developing cancer, and for women, the risk is even higher. In contrast, women with diabetes are less likely than men to develop liver cancer.
An analysis by cancer site found that, compared with men, women had significantly higher risk for kidney (RR 1.11; 95% CI 1.04 to 1.08), oral (RR 1.13; 95% CI 1.00 to 1.28), and stomach cancer (RR 1.14; 95% CI 1.07 to 1.22) as well as leukemia (RR 1.15; 95% CI 1.02 to 1.28), but significantly lower risk for liver cancer (RR 0.88; 95% CI 0.79 to 0.99). This might explain why women with diabetes have a greater risk of developing cancer, but without more research, we cannot be sure of that, "says Dr. Sanne Peters, another author of the Institute's study".
The researchers believe that undertreatment in women could be a significant element behind these differences. Overall, women with diabetes were 6% more likely to develop some form of cancer than men with diabetes.
"Historically we know that women are often undertreated when they first present with symptoms of diabetes, are less likely to receive intensive care and are not taking the same levels of medications as men", Peters points out.
"The number of people with diabetes has doubled globally in the last 30 years but we still have much to learn about the condition", Ohkuma added.
Dr Ohkuma concluded that more research is needed to explore the link between diabetes and cancer, and for both diabetics and the medical community to understand the heightened cancer risk.
Now, a review analyzing the data collected by 47 studies from across the globe - including the United States, United Kingdom, China, Australia, and Japan, to name but a few - confirms, beyond doubt, that diabetes heightens the risk for cancer. The risk of developing kidney cancer (11% higher), oral cancer (13% higher), stomach cancer (14% higher) and leukemia (15% higher) were significantly higher in women with diabetes than men with this disease.