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Gestational Diabetes May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Having diabetes in pregnancy — or gestational diabetes — may save women from developing breast cancer later in life.

A study conducted by researchers from the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida, studied the possible differences in the association between breast cancer and diabetes among Hispanic women and non-Hispanic Caucasian women in a case-controlled study. A total of 1,526 Caucasian women and 798 Hispanic women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1999 and 2004 were included in the study. These women subjects were matched with a similar number of cancer-free controls.

It was found that diabetes in general and type 2 diabetes in particular, were not associated with breast cancer. The research team, however, saw a significant inverse association between gestational diabetes and breast cancer. Thirty percent of women who had gestational diabetes had a lower percentage of developing breast cancer. It was also found that the effect was stronger when gestational diabetes was diagnosed before age 35.

“Should the inverse association between gestational diabetes and breast cancer be observed in future studies, potential biologic explanations should be further investigated,” researchers conclude.

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