Diabetes mellitus and breast cancer

Lancet Oncol. 2005 Feb;6(2):103-11. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(05)01736-5.


Type 2 diabetes is a serious health problem that affects more than 7% of adults in developed countries. Up to 16% of patients with breast cancer have diabetes, and two major risk factors for type 2 diabetes-old age and obesity-are also associated with breast cancer. Three mechanisms have been postulated to associate diabetes with breast cancer: activation of the insulin pathway, activation of the insulin-like-growth-factor pathway, and regulation of endogenous sex hormones. Comparative cohort studies and case-control studies suggest that type 2 diabetes may be associated with 10-20% excess relative risk of breast cancer. Gestational diabetes mellitus, but not type 1 diabetes, might also be associated with excess risk of breast cancer. Moreover, diabetes and its complications can adversely affect cancer therapy and the use of screening, which will thus affect the outcome of patients with breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / complications*
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy
  • Hormones / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Insulin / physiology
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Somatomedins / physiology


  • Hormones
  • Insulin
  • Somatomedins