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Study Reports, Some Diabetes Drugs Tied to Reduced Cancer Risk in Women

Update Date: Dec 06, 2013 09:33 AM EST

A new study conducted by researchers from Cleveland Clinic is reporting that some diabetes drugs could actually help lower women's risk of cancer. The research team found that a group of oral drugs prescribed for diabetics was tied to reducing women's cancer risk by nearly one-third.

For this research, the team focused on insulin sensitizers, which include metformin, rosiglitazone (Avandia) and pioglitazone (Actos) and insulin secretagogues, which include the drugs, glyburide, glipizide and glimepiride. The researchers focused on the eight-year time frame from 1998 to 2006. They looked through two databases from Cleveland Clinic that contained information on this time frame. One of the databases followed 25,613 patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The people from this sample set were on a single diabetes medication. The other registry had collected tissue samples from 48,051 cancer occurrences. The researchers calculated that during this time frame, 892 diabetics had cancer.

From the analysis of the data, the researchers found that women, specifically, who took insulin sensitizers had a reduced risk of cancer. The class of insulin sensitizer drugs that had the greatest effect on cancer risk was called thiazolidinediones (TZDs), which include Avandia and Actos. Overall, women who took TZDs and metformin had a 22 percent reduced cancer risk in comparison to people who took insulin secretagogues.

"This is good news," said the study's lead author, Dr. Sangeeta Kashyap of the Cleveland Clinic's Endocrinology and Metabolism Institute reported by the Los Angeles Times. "This tells us doctors when we're treating people for diabetes that we need to think not just about their heart disease risk or the possibility of weight gain, but about cancer too. And when it comes to cancer, the choice of agents we prescribe makes a difference."

The study was published in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.

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