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Diabetes may lead to Breast Cancer

If a woman has diabetes, there is a likelihood she will develop breast cancer later on.

A study in Sweden led by Dr. Hakan Olsson, a professor of oncology at Lund University, looked into the medical records of more than 2,700 patients with breast cancer and about 20,500 patients who never had cancer. The records analyzed spanned 10 years of the participants’ medical history prior to having breast cancer.

Though it yielded a finding previously shown in earlier research, specifically linking obesity to increased breast cancer risk, a preliminary finding has actually given the medical world something new to think about – that a diabetic female, regardless of age, gets a 37 percent higher risk of breast cancer during the first four years following diagnosis of the disease.

Another possible contributor to breast cancer risk is the medicine that a diabetes patient, ingests, according to Dr. Olsson whose team presented their research at a medical meeting. He cites glargine (Lantus) and metformin (Glucophage, Fortamet, among others) in particular. Glargine has been found to double the risk of breast cancer while metformin appeared to slightly diminish the risk.

However, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women’s heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, is not at all surprised. She said that the connection between obesity and breast cancer is already well-known, and stressed that among obese individuals, many are actually diabetic, thus establishing the link between diabetes and breast cancer.

In simple words, Dr. Olsson reminded women with diabetes to be aware of the possible onset of certain cancer types, including breast cancer.

To prevent these from happening, women should aim for a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25 as advised by Dr. Olsson. A BMI of 25 or higher categorizes the person as overweight, whereas a BMI of 30 or over puts the person in the obese category.

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