Diabetes treatments raise lung cancer risk in postmenopausal women

Postmenopausal women with treated diabetes have a significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer, according to a study published in Diabetes Care.

The study followed more than 145,000 postmenopausal women aged 50 to 79 years enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative study.

More than 8,100 participants had diabetes at the start of the study and were followed for an average of 11 years. Among them were 2,257 diagnosed cases of lung cancer.

Researchers collected data on treatments by reviewing the women's current medication containers and self-reported information on their treatment history.

Higher risk of lung cancer

They found that women with self-reported diabetes had a 27 percent higher risk of developing lung cancer than women without diabetes.

Those women in the study whose diabetes required insulin treatment had a 71 percent higher risk of developing lung cancer than women without diabetes.

The researchers did not see an association between lung cancer risk and duration of diabetes or untreated diabetes.

Researchers recommend further studies on the influence of diabetes severity and the specific classes of therapy for diabetes on lung cancer.

The authors of the study are affiliated with West Virginia University, Harbor-UCLA Torrance Memorial Medical Center, University at Buffalo, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and HealthPartners Research Foundation.

Lung Cancer

More people in the United States die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2008, some 208,493 people in the US were diagnosed with lung cancer, with 158,592 cases resulting in death.

Established risk factors for lung cancer include cigarette smoking, secondhand smoke, exposure to asbestos or radon, and family history of lung cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, cancer begins in cells that make up tissues, which make up organs. Normal cells grow old and die, and new cells regenerate to take their place.

Sometimes, new cells form when the body doesn't need the, or old and damaged cells may not die. This build-up of extra cells may form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumor.

Tumor cells that are malignant are cancer. Malignant tumors are often life-threatening, can invade nearby tissues and organs, can spread to other parts of the body, and may grow back after being removed.

Sources: DiabetesCare, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Cancer Institute

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