Diabetes Increases Risk of Certain Cancers 

diabetes and cancer

 A study of almost 20 million people has found that having diabetes increases the risk of someone getting certain cancers. 

The study found a higher risk of stomach, mouth and kidney cancer, and leukaemia, particularly amongst women with diabetes.

Link between diabetes and cancer 

It has previously been shown that having diabetes increases the risk of cancer, but this study looked at the link with specific types of cancer, and also whether gender impacts the risk.

Researchers from The George Institute for Global Health in Australia analysed data from 47 studies from around the world, including the UK, USA, Australia, China and Japan. Nearly 20 million people were involved in the studies.

Gender differences

The analysis showed that women who have diabetes were 27% more likely to develop cancer than women without diabetes. This is compared to a 19% increase in risk for men with diabetes compared with men without. 

Women with diabetes were 6% more likely to develop any form of cancer than men with diabetes.


It is thought that the difference in risk between the genders may be to do with under-treatment. Study author Dr Sanne Peters explained: “Historically we know that women are often under-treated when they first present with symptoms of diabetes, are less likely to receive intensive care and are not taking the same levels of medications as men.

“All of these could go some way to explaining why women are at greater risk of developing cancer. But, without more research we can’t be certain.”


The research also highlighted a difference in risks for different types of cancer. There were significantly higher risks for women with diabetes for developing leukaemia (15% higher), stomach cancer (14% higher), mouth cancer (13% higher) and kidney cancer (11% higher risk).

It is thought that the cause of this increased risk is the raised levels of blood glucose in people with diabetes, leading to cancer-causing effects through DNA damage.

More research

The study authors have called for more research into the link between certain cancers and diabetes, and the increased risk among women.

Dr Peters said: “It’s vital that we undertake more research into discovering what is driving this, and for both people with diabetes and the medical community to be aware of the heightened cancer risk for women and men with diabetes.”


This article was written by a third party source and does not reflect the views or opinions of Ramsay Health Care unless explicitly stated.

Additional comments on the page from individual Consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other Consultants or Ramsay Health Care.

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