Post menopausal women with type 2 diabetes more prone to breast cancer

by Sarita Sheth on November 1, 2012

Women with type 2 diabetes urged to keep their weight down

Studies suggest that women with type 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing breast cancer and they are being urged to maintain a healthy lifestyle including keeping their weight down.

An international team of scientists who analysed 40 separate studies linking breast cancer and diabetes found that post menopausal women with type 2 diabetes appear to have a 27% greater risk of developing breast cancer.

Professor Peter Boyle, president of the International Prevention Research Institute, who led the study, said that they don’t yet know the mechanisms behind why type 2 diabetes might increase the risk of breast cancer.

But being obese or overweight is linked to both conditions and the study suggests that a high body mass index (BMI), which is often associated with diabetes, may be an underlying contributing factor.

‘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. But it’s also impossible to rule out that some factors related to diabetes may be involved in the process,’ explained Boyle.

A separate study by the Department of Medicine at the University of North Caroline in Chapel Hill, has found that post menopausal women with type 2 diabetes were 35% more likely to develop breast cancer, compared with those without diabetes.

Among non-white women with diabetes, the risk for developing breast cancer was increased by 289% compared with those without type 2 diabetes.

Among women with breast cancer, those with diabetes were 65% more likely than those without diabetes to die from all causes. The death risk was 149% if higher if women with breast cancer were also obese.

‘Our findings suggest that diabetes may increase incidence of breast cancer in older women and non-whites, and mortality due to all causes,’ the study concludes.

It looked at data from 1,447 women with breast cancer and 1,453 controls without the disease who participated in the Long Island Breast Cancer Study Project.

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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