Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of breast cancer in post-menopausal women, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Cancer this week. While that link may be indirectly associated with being overweight, researchers have not ruled out the possibility that having type 2 diabetes could directly increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.
The study was performed by researchers at the International Prevention Research Institute, and consisted of a comprehensive review of 40 separate studies, including 56,000 breast cancer cases over four continents. While the study did find a potential correlation between type 2 diabetes and breast cancer in post-menopausal women, such a link does not apparently exist in pre-menopausal women or women with type 1 diabetes, reports Medical News Today.
“Our study found a significantly increased risk of breast cancer in women who had diabetes, which was restricted to those of post-menopausal age,” said the lead author of the study.
Obesity may play a role, as it is a risk factor for both type 2 diabetes and breast cancer, increasing a post-menopausal woman’s risk by 30%. However, researchers noted that there could exist a direct biological link between type 2 and breast cancer in post-menopausal women, not tied to obesity. “But it’s also impossible to rule out that some factors [directly] related to diabetes may be involved in the process,” the study’s author stated.
Despite an apparent 27% risk increase of breast cancer in post-menopausal type 2 diabetic women, some are skeptical of the study’s findings.
“But as we know that having a high BMI can contribute to an increased risk of both type II diabetes and breast cancer, it makes sense for women to try and maintain a healthy weight,” said Martin Ledwick, Head Information Nurse at Cancer Research UK, who said that the study does not show a direct link between type 2 diabetes and breast cancer.
Whether or not such a link exists, maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise, and reducing the intake of alcohol help reduce one’s risk of developing breast cancer.