Post menopausal women have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes, study shows

by Sarita Sheth on September 17, 2012

Scientists examine potential link between diabetes and breast cancer

Post menopausal women with type 2 diabetes are nearly 30% more likely to get breast cancer, according to results of a comprehensive review made by researchers at the International Prevention Research Institute based in France.

At the iPRI, an independent Institute dedicated to research on disease causation and prevention, 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 2 diabetes had a 27% increased risk of breast cancer.

The increase in breast cancer risk seems to be restricted to post menopausal women with type 2 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.

Obesity is also a risk factor for breast cancer. Figures from Cancer Research UK, suggest it raises the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer by up to 30%, and that excess body weight is tied to more than 4,000 cases of breast cancer each year in the UK, for example.

‘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,’ said Professor Peter Boyle, president of iPRI and lead author of the study.

‘We don’t yet know the mechanisms behind why type 2 diabetes increases the risk of breast cancer. On the one hand, it’s thought that being overweight, often associated with type 2 diabetes, and the effect this has on hormone activity may be partly responsible for the processes that lead to cancer growth,’ he explained.

‘It is also impossible to rule out that some factor(s) related to diabetes may be involved in the process,’ he added.

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 being investigated.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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