Personalized Therapy Can Reduce, Eliminate Cancer Risk in Diabetics

Targeted personalized therapy in patients with diabetes can reduce the risk of developing cancer.

Through the optimization of personalized therapy, an increased risk of cancer in patients with diabetes can be practically eliminated, according to new findings published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

A link between cancer and type 2 diabetes was previously established, with diabetics having a higher risk of cancer, and certain diabetes drugs thought to contribute to the increased risk.

“Cancer and diabetes share common risk factors such as being overweight, smoking, poor eating habits, lack of exercise, insulin resistance, inflammatory and hormonal changes and, on top of that, poorly controlled diabetes with high blood glucose levels can increase the risk of cancer,” said researcher Alexandra Kautzky-Willer.

The statistical survey was comprised of data from 1.85 million Austrians who were in the hospital at least once. Approximately 300,000 suffered from type 2 diabetes, and were treated with a total of approximately 300 different combinations of diabetes drugs: incretin-based therapies and SGLT-2 inhibitors.

The results of the study showed that the primary insulin-stimulating drugs, sulphonylurea and insulin, had a significantly higher cancer risk than insulin inhibitors. This was found to be particularly true in pancreatic cancer cases in men and women, liver cancer in men, and lymphoma in women. The effect was significant across both sexes.

“However, if statins are taken at the same time, this risk is massively reduced, even down to zero as compared with non-diabetic patients,” Kautzky-Willer said.

The findings indicate that the risk can be eliminated through the use of targeted precision medicine. Furthermore, concomitant treatment with statins are associated with a reduced cancer risk, in addition to the widely-used diabetes drug metformin.

“This shows that it is possible to optimize individual treatments to substantially reduce the general cancer risk for diabetes patients,” said researcher Peter Klimek. “In today’s precision medicine, we have a wide selection of drugs available to us and possible combination treatments that would make this possible.”