(HealthDay News) — Insulin sensitizers, particularly thiazolidinedione use, may reduce the risk of cancer in women with type 2 diabetes, according to research published online Dec. 5 in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.

Grace E. Ching Sun, DO, from the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed the electronic health record-based Cleveland Clinic Diabetes Registry (n=25,613) and cross-indexed it with the histology-based tumor registry (48,051 cancer occurrences) from 1998 to 2006.

The researchers found 892 incident cancer cases during 51,994 person follow-up years, with an overall age-adjusted cancer incidence of 952 per 100,000 for men and 802 per 100,000 for women in the study cohort compared with 683 and 513 per 100,000, respectively, in the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) age-adjusted rates for patients without diabetes.

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Prostate (14.5%) and breast cancers (11.7%) were the most common.

In women, results indicated that cancer risk was decreased by 32% with thiazolidinedione use compared with sulphonylurea use (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.68; 95% CI, 0.48-0.97). Additionally, compared with insulin secretagogues, including sulphonylureas and meglitinides, cancer risk in women was reduced by 21% with use of insulin sensitizers, including biguanides and thiazolidinediones (HR = 0.79).

In men, however, there were no differences in oral diabetes therapies and risk of cancer.

“Oral insulin sensitizers are associated with decreased malignancy risk in women with type 2 diabetes mellitus,” Sun and colleagues conclude.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry; the diabetes registry was supported by funds from the pharmaceutical industry.


  1. Sun GEC, Wells BJ, Yip K et al. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2013;doi:10.1111/dom.12231.