Diabetes may be associated with an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), with a greater risk seen among men than women, according to a new study published in Hematology.

Diabetes is a known risk factor for many types of cancers and various other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and dementia. However, the effect of diabetes on the risk of NHL is still uncertain, according to the study authors.

NHL accounted for 4.3% of all cancers in the United States in 2014 and incidence of the disease has been increasing for decades in Western countries. Diabetes affects approximately 3% to 4% of adults worldwide, contributing to approximately 1.3 million deaths, according to the researchers.

For this study, investigators aimed to examine the association between diabetes and subsequent NHL risk by conducting a meta-analysis of available cohort studies.

The analysis included 13 studies, involving a total of approximately 9 million individuals across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Follow-up duration in the studies ranged from 1 year to 35 years.

Overall, the results indicated that diabetes was associated with an increased risk of NHL (RR=1.15, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.30, P=.03). Additionally, subgroup analyses suggested that the association may be different according to mean age at baseline, follow-up duration, and adjustment for body mass index (BMI). Based on the findings, the association between diabetes and NHL was significant with patients less than 60 years of age (RR=1.65, 95% CI: 1.31, 2.09, P<.0001), follow-up duration within 8 years, and in studies adjusted for BMI, according to the study.

Analyses among patients with diabetes suggested that men with diabetes were more likely to develop NHL than women with diabetes.  

“In summary, this study suggested that [diabetes mellitus] had a potentially harmful impact on NHL risk,” the investigators concluded. “Physicians and health professionals should focus on [diabetes mellitus] treatment in NHL patients combined with [diabetes mellitus], instead of merely cancer treatment.”

Reference
Xu J, Wang T. Association of diabetes mellitus with non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. Hematology. 2019. https://doi.org/10.1080/16078454.2019.1636485