Diabetes increases the risk of breast cancer: a meta-analysis

    1. Guy D Eslick
    1. Sydney Medical School Nepean, The Whiteley-Martin Research Centre, Discipline of Surgery, Nepean Hospital, The University of Sydney, Level 5, South Block, PO Box 63, Penrith, New South Wales 2751, Australia
    1. (Correspondence should be addressed to G D Eslick; Email: eslickg{at}med.usyd.edu.au)


    The aim of this meta-analysis was to collate and analyse all primary observational studies investigating the risk of breast cancer (BC) associated with diabetes. In addition, we aimed to complete subgroup analyses by both type of diabetes and gender of study participants to further clarify the origin of any such association between the two. Studies were obtained from a database search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, Current Contents Connect and Google Scholar with additional cross-checking of reference lists. Collated data were assessed for heterogeneity and a pooled odds ratio (OR) calculated. Forty-three studies were included in the meta-analysis with 40 studies investigating BC in women and six studies investigating BC in men. Overall, we found a significantly increased risk of BC associated with diabetes in women (OR 1.20, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.13–1.29). After subgroup analysis by type of diabetes, the association was unchanged with type 2 diabetes (OR 1.22, 95% CI 1.07–1.40) and nullified with gestational diabetes (OR 1.06, 95% CI 0.79–1.40). There were insufficient studies to calculate a pooled OR of the risk of BC associated with type 1 diabetes. There was an increased risk of BC in males with diabetes mellitus; however, the results did not reach statistical significance (OR 1.29, 95% CI 0.99–1.67). In conclusion, diabetes increases the risk of BC in women. This association is confirmed in women with type 2 diabetes and supports the hypothesis that diabetes is an independent risk factor for BC.

    • Revision received 5 September 2012
    • Accepted 3 October 2012
    • Made available online as an Accepted Preprint 3 October 2012
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