Diabetes and Cause-Specific Mortality in a Prospective Cohort of One Million U.S. Adults
People with diabetes are at a greater risk of death from many diseases, including several types of cancer, than those without diabetes, by Peter T. Campbell and colleagues. Diabetes Care 35: 1835–1844, 2012
What is the problem and what is known about it so far?
Diabetes is linked to premature death from a variety of causes, most notably from heart disease and stroke. Less is known about the association between diabetes and other causes of death such as cancer. Previous studies have found that diabetes is linked to an increased risk of cancer.
Why did the researchers do this particular study?
These researchers were hoping to determine precisely which diseases are more likely to cause death among people with diabetes as well as to assess how much diabetes raises the risk of death for these diseases, paying close attention to specific forms of cancer.
Who was studied?
The study included one million U.S. adults, all without cancer at the start of the study.
How was the study done?
Researchers tracked the health of the participants over 26 years. During that time, almost half of the participants died. The researchers then calculated whether diabetes raised the risk of death and if so, by how much.
What did the researchers find?
The researchers found that people with diabetes had a 90 percent increased risk of death from all causes for women while the risk increased by 73 percent for men. Women with diabetes were more susceptible to death from liver, pancreas, endometrial, colon, and breast cancer. Men with diabetes had a heightened risk of death from breast, liver, oral, pancreas, bladder, and colon cancer. Men with diabetes were actually at lower risk of dying from prostate cancer then those without the disease. Diabetes raised the risk of death for a variety of other types of disease as well, including respiratory and digestive problems.
What were the limitations of the study?
The researchers lacked information on what type of diabetes participants had, as well as details on the severity of the diabetes. Another limitation was that the researchers relied on participants to self-report their diabetes status, which may have resulted in misclassification.
What are the implications of the study?
This study indicates that diabetes affects many of the body’s systems. The findings suggest that people with diabetes should undergo age- and gender-appropriate screenings for specific types of cancer.
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