Women With Diabetes May Face Increased Kidney Cancer Risk

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Post-menopausal women may be at an increased risk for kidney cancer if they are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Post-menopausal women without obesity who were previously diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may be at an increased risk for developing kidney cancer

Findings from the study published in Maturitas highlights the potential need for more surveillance for cancer in this specific patient population.

“The number of kidney cancer cases has been increasing for several decades, so we think it is important to identify risk factors of kidney cancer to aid in early detection,” explained lead study author Shuo Wang, a PhD student from the division of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, in an interview with CURE®.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are 64,000 new cases of kidney cancer annually. Likewise, diabetes affects more than 34 million Americans today, of which 90% to 95% have type 2 diabetes (when the body builds a resistance to insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas that allows blood sugar cells to be used as energy).

During 25 years of follow-up, 245 post-menopausal women received a diagnosis of kidney cancer among the 36,975 women included in this study.

When researchers took age into consideration, there was a significant link between diabetes and the risk for kidney cancer. The relationship between diabetes and kidney cancer weakened when several other factors were assessed like body mass index, hypertension (high blood pressure), waist-to-hip ratio (an estimate of how much fat is stored on the hips, waist and buttocks), diuretic use, physical activity, alcohol intake, number of cigarette packs smoked per year and total caloric intake.

Researchers also assessed the risk for kidney cancer in women without obesity (body mass index less than 30 kg/m2) and those with a waist circumference less than 34.6 inches. Type 2 diabetes in these women was significantly associated with the risk for kidney cancer.

Wang noted that the relation between type 2 diabetes and kidney cancer is likely due to several mechanisms: higher levels of insulin-like growth factor 1, which can trigger tumor growth, and higher blood glucose levels, which may increase the risk of cancer. Additionally, not finding an association between type 2 diabetes and kidney cancer in patients with obesity may because obese patients even without type 2 diabetes may have abnormal metabolic profiles that may increase their risk of cancer. According to Wang, adding more surveillance for patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes may lead to potential early detection and better survival outcomes. “Patients with type 2 diabetes may need more surveillance for cancer, including kidney cancer,” she said.

Wang noted limitations of the study was the inclusion of primarily White post-menopausal women. She said, “The study may not be generalizable to male or non-White patients.”

For next steps, Wang says that there needs to be more focus on diabetes and its association to risk of kidney cancer in order to fully validate their results.

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