A new study showed that type 2 diabetes patients who took insulin or insulin secretagogues and statins had a reduced risk of cancers of the brain, colon, liver, lung, pancreas and prostate, with a greater reduction seen among those who didn’t receive antihyperglycemic drugs. The researchers used a cohort of 1,847,051 patients with hospital stays during 2006 to 2007 and found the strongest effects for insulin use and pancreatic cancer, sulfonylureas or glitazones and skin cancer, and metformin and prostate cancer, corpus uteri and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  There is firm evidence of a relation between type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and increased risks of cancer at various sites, but it is still unclear how different antihyperglycemic therapies modify site-specific cancer risks. The aim of this study was to provide a complete characterization of all possible associations between individual T2DM therapies, statin use and site-specific cancers.

The use of statins offsets insulin-related cancer risks in patients with diabetes independently of sex and age. Overall, the data supports the hyperglycemia–cancer hypothesis. A reduction in endogenous or exogenous hyperinsulinaemia may be beneficial for cancer prevention. Therefore, insulin-sparing and insulin-sensitizing drugs should be the preferred treatment choices. — Published online Oct. 21 in the Journal of Internal Medicine.