Gynecological tumors are widespread diseases in developed countries. In the last decades, many studies have raised concern about a possible link between cancer and type 2 diabetes (T2D). In the light of current knowledge, are women with T2D at increased risk of gynecological cancer?
In women with T2D, most studies observed an increased risk of many tumors, such as breast, liver, pancreas, stomach, kidney, colon/rectum cancer and leukemia.
The link between T2D and other female cancers (endometrial, cervical, epithelial ovarian and vulvar cancer) is still under evaluation. In a review published in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, the authors focus on current evidence on this topic and summarize the complex molecular mechanisms behind this possible association.
In general, data from literature suggest that chronic inflammation and hormones may play a role in cancer initiation and progression. In detail, a higher risk of endometrial cancer (EC) was observed in T2D, even though this association largely relates to obesity.
Higher risk of cervical cancer
A clear relationship between the incidence of cervical cancer (CC) and T2D has still not been determined; however T2D might have an impact on prognosis in patients with CC. To date, evidence on the association between T2D and ovarian cancer (OC) is limited, but many studies showed improved risk and mortality of OC in women with T2D.
There is also a link between increased blood glucose levels and the risk of rare gynecological cancers, such as vulvar cancer (VC): T2D is often associated with vulvar inflammation, suspected risk factor for VC. In summary, pre-existing diabetes might both induce cancer development and influence prognosis and survival.
T2D medications role in cancer growth
This work revises also studies the potential role of diabetes medications in cancer growth in women: in particular, metformin, a widespread oral antidiabetic drug, seems to have important antitumor effects.
Although further research is needed to clarify this dangerous association, the correct understanding of the molecular link between T2D and gynecological cancer is currently imperative to possibly modify screening and diagnostic-therapeutic protocols in the future.
Read the orginal article here