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Diabetes Protects Against Prostate Cancer

Jul 1, 2004

New findings provide something positive about having diabetes Findings from a new study provide further evidence that men with diabetes mellitus have a reduced risk of prostate cancer. After controlling for potential confounders, the authors found that diabetes was associated with a 36% reduction in the risk of prostate cancer.

In theory, because low insulin levels are linked to low levels of testosterone, diabetes should protect against prostate cancer, a malignancy stimulated by high androgen levels, explain Dr. K. Zhu, from the US Military Cancer Institute in Washington, DC, and colleagues in the May 15th issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology. Yet previous studies examining the association have yielded conflicting results.

To further investigate the diabetes/prostate cancer link, the researchers used data from the Physicians’ Health Study to perform a case-control analysis. The study group included 1110 case and control subjects who were followed from 1982 to 1995.

In addition to the presence of diabetes being associated with a reduction in prostate cancer risk, duration of diabetes also decreased the cancer risk. Diabetes was tied to a decreased risk of stage B through D prostate cancer, but not stage A disease.

"The results contribute to the understanding of factors that may delay prostate cancer progression and are helpful for developing therapeutic and preventive interventions," the investigators note. "Large studies with similar results will help to solidify the present findings."
Am J Epidemiol 2004;159:978-982.