Myths about Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer Survivors Face Increased Diabetes Risk
Postmenopausal women who have survived breast cancer are more likely to develop diabetes than women who never had breast cancer, a new study finds.
By Annie Hauser
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THURSDAY, Dec. 13, 2012 —Postmenopausal breast cancer survivors have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes — in part, it appears, as a consequence of receiving chemotherapy, according to a large study published inDiabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
Researchers from Women's College Hospital in Toronto, Canada, compared the incidence of diabetes among women over 55 with breast cancer to that of women over 55 without breast cancer.
Nearly 10 percent of the 24,976 breast cancer survivors and 120,000-plus controls developed diabetes. Women with breast cancer had an increased risk of 7 percent two years after their cancer diagnosis with a 21 percent increased risk after 10 years. Among patients who received chemotherapy, the risk went almost in the opposite direction: A 24 percent higher risk was identified two years after a cancer diagnosis, but after 10 years, the risk dropped to 8 percent.
"It is possible that chemotherapy treatment may bring out diabetes earlier in susceptible women," explained researcher Lorraine Lipsombe, MD, in a release. "Increased weight gain has been noted in the setting for adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer, which may be a factor in the increased risk of diabetes in women receiving treatment."
The common risk factors for both conditions might also help explain the link, researchers write, particularly insulin resistance. Insulin resistance predisposes people to both type 2 diabetes and many types of cancer.
Previous studies have found a link between diabetes and developing breast cancer, indicating that the risk goes in both directions. Obesity after age 60 also increases breast cancer risk, a study prevented at the 2011 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium found.
There is also a link between pancreatic cancer and diabetes. People who are diagnosed wtih diabetes after age 50 are eight times for likely to develop pancreatic cancer, one study found. In fact, about 80 percent of people who have pancreatic cancer also have glucose intolerance (blood sugar levels that are high, but not yet at diabetic levels) or diabetes, researchers have found, researchers say.
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