Increased Colorectal Cancer Risk in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

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Increased risk of colorectal cancer for diabetes patients with obesity duration of four years or longer.
Increased risk of colorectal cancer for diabetes patients with obesity duration of four years or longer.

The risk of colorectal cancer is moderately increased in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to research published in Diabetes Care.

Paul J.H.L. Peeters, of the Utrecht University in the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted an observational population-based cohort study in which 300,039 patients, aged 18 years or older, with at least one prescription for an antidiabetic drug, were matched with a comparison cohort of individuals without diabetes. The risk of colorectal cancer associated with type 2 diabetes was assessed.

The researchers found, at a median follow-up of 4.5 years, 2,759 cases of colorectal cancer in patients with diabetes. Type 2 diabetes was associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer (hazard ratio [HR], 1.26; 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.18 to 1.33).

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No association was found between risk of colorectal cancer and treatment stages for diabetes. Risk of colorectal cancer was significantly higher in patients with documented duration of obesity of four to eight years (HR, 1.19; 95 percent CI, 1.06 to 1.34) and longer than eight years (HR, 1.28; 95 percent CI, 1.11 to 1.49).

"In summary, we observed a moderate, yet (1.3-fold) significantly increased, risk of colorectal cancer in patients treated for type 2 diabetes," the authors write.

One author conducts research coordinated by an institution that receives funding partly from pharmaceutical companies.


  1. Peeters, Paul J.H.L., et al. "The Risk of Colorectal Cancer in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: Associations With Treatment Stage and Obesity." Diabetes Care. doi: 10.2337/dc14-1175. December 31, 2014.

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