Statins May Offset Risk for Insulin-Related Cancers in Type 2 Diabetes

HealthDay News — For patients with type 2 diabetes, use of statins offsets insulin-related cancer risks, according to research published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Alexandra Kautzky-Willer, MD, from the Medical University of Vienna, and colleagues characterized all possible associations between individual type 2 diabetes therapies, statin use, and site-specific cancers in the Austrian population using medical claims data for 1,847,051 patients with hospital stays during 2006 to 2007.

The researchers found that the risk of cancers of the colon (males only), liver (males only), pancreas, lung (males only), and brain (males only) were increased up to 9-fold for patients treated with insulin or insulin secretagogues; the risk of prostate cancer was decreased strongly. 

The risks were generally decreased for patients taking statins, with a greater risk reduction among those not receiving antihyperglycemic therapies. The effects were strongest for use of insulin and pancreatic cancer, sulfonylureas or glitazones and skin cancer, and metformin and prostate cancer, corpus uteri, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“Overall, our data support the hyperglycemia-cancer hypothesis,” the researchers wrote. “Therefore, insulin-sparing and insulin-sensitizing drugs should be the preferred treatment choices.”

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  1. Kautzky-Willer A, Thurner S, Klimek P. Use of statins offsets insulin-related cancer risk. J Intern Med. 2016 Oct 21. doi:10.1111/joim.12567.